Examining the Link Between Addiction and Suicide

Addressing the link between addiction and suicide.

Today marks 2019 Suicide Prevention Day, an event organized and spearheaded by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to raise awareness of the macro and everyday factors that have contributed to the alarmingly high rates of global suicide fatality. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that over 800,000 around the world take their own lives each year, roughly one person every 40 seconds, and that suicide is the leading cause of death among individuals 15-24 years of age, globally. As substance abuse in the United States and around the world continues to fester, and in parts of the global, escalate, the link between addiction and suicide is becoming more deeply embedded each year.

What Are The Facts?

Addiction and suicide share a close, complex and toxic relationship. Individuals who engage in heavy drinking are five times as likely to die from suicide than social drinkers. Data from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs indicates that the suicide hazard ratio is 1.35 for cocaine use, 2.10 for psychostimulant use, 3.83 for benzodiazepine use, 3.89 for cannabis use, and 11.36 for sedative use. Data published in the American Journal of Psychiatry indicates that substance use disorders create a risk of suicide that is 10–14 times greater than that of the general population; deaths related to substance use are highest among persons with alcohol use disorders followed by persons who abuse opiates.

Combating Addiction and Suicide

Combating collective and global addiction and suicide requires a robust and multilateral effort to increase awareness, treatment and prevention resources, but it also relies heavily on everyday efforts of friends and loved ones of those who are particularly vulnerable. The IASP has provided a comprehensive schedule of activities and a toolkit for those looking to fully mobilize during Suicide Prevention Day, and every other day of the year, and help their friend or loved one find options other than escape. This is everyone’s problem, and it can very easily become everyone’s ultimate nightmare.