Why Addiction is a Risk Factor for Suicide
If you or someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. There is no single cause of suicide, but we know that there are risk factors. Risk factors include previous suicide attempts, mental health disorders, exposure to suicidal behavior, and family history of mental health or suicide.
Another major risk factor for suicide is addiction. People with substance use disorders are six times more likely to attempt suicide. More specifically, research has shown that people with opioid use disorders are at an increased risk of suicide.
Due to the comorbidity of depression and substance use disorders, it’s likely that those with a dual diagnosis are at a greater risk for suicide.
Here are some other contributing factors to suicidal behavior among people with substance use disorders:
- Tendency to engage in high-risk or impulsive behaviors when using
- Financial or social problems
- Severity and duration of substance abuse
- Type of substance
- Depressive effects of substances
There may be an increased risk when someone abuses alcohol, prescription medications, or intravenous drugs. There is also an even greater risk when multiple drugs are used.
It’s important to note that substance use and suicide are not always associated. Many people with substance use disorders do not exhibit suicidal thoughts or actions.
Warning Signs of Suicide
People who are suicidal will display different behaviors, but these are some of the most common warning signs:
- Talking about wanting to die or killing themselves
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Increased use of drugs and alcohol
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Fatigue or insomnia
- Feelings of despair or unbearable pain
- Making plans for death, like preparing a will or giving stuff away
- Extreme irritability
- Reckless behavior
If you or someone you know has exhibited these behaviors, do not ignore them. Listen, provide support, and help guide them to resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or a mental health professional.
Suicide Prevention: The Importance of Treatment
Early and effective addiction treatment is critical for suicide prevention. In treatment, individuals can learn healthy coping mechanisms instead of using drugs and alcohol. Treatment also allows medical professionals to diagnose any underlying mental health disorders and provide ongoing assessments.
If a dual diagnosis is present, it’s important to treat symptoms of both disorders to reduce the risk of relapse and suicide. Addiction and mental health need to be treated at the same time in order to break the cycle that can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Pyramid Healthcare provides addiction and mental health treatment for adults and teens in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder or is experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors, contact our admissions department. We are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
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