Opioid Pain Meds Rarely Involved in Suicide Attempts – December 05, 2016 – By Pat Anson, Editor
Opioid pain medication is involved in less than 5 percent of the attempted suicides in the United States, according to a large new study of emergency room visits.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine studied a national database of more than one billion emergency department visits from 2006 to 2013, and found that antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs were far more likely to be used in an attempted suicide than opioid medication.
The findings appear to contradict numerous government and media reports suggesting that opioids play a significant role in the nation’s rising suicide rate.
A recent VA study, for example, found that veterans receiving the highest doses of opioid painkillers were more than twice as likely to die by suicide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicides in the U.S. increased by 31 percent over the past decade and are now the 10th leading cause of death.
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In 2014, nearly 43,000 Americans committed suicide, three times the number of overdose deaths that were linked to prescription opioids.
The Johns Hopkins researchers were puzzled to find that while suicides had risen, there was no corresponding increase in attempted suicides.
Their findings are published in the journal Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences.