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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
July/August 2010, Volume 18, Number 4 

Drug-Related Suicide Attempts: Teens and Young Adults

Two recent reports from SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) examine emergency department (ED) visits for drug-related suicide attempts by youth age 12 to 17 and young adults age 18 to 24.

In 2008, nearly one-tenth (8.8 percent) of drug-related ED visits made by adolescents age 12 to 17 involved suicide attempts. For young adults, 6.3 percent of drug-related ED visits involved suicide attempts.

Pharmaceuticals were involved in 95.4 percent of drug-related suicide attempts among adolescents in 2008. For young adults, pharmaceuticals were involved in 92.8 percent of drug-related suicide attempts. See chart for selected substances involved in young adult visits.

cover of Emergency Department Visits for Drug-related Suicide Attempts by Adolescents: 2008 - click to view publication

cover of Emergency Department Visits for Drug-related Suicide Attempts by Young Adults Age 18 to 24: 2008 - click to view publication

Download the full reports from the SAMHSA Web site:

DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related ED visits in the United States. Although DAWN includes only suicide attempts that involve drugs, these attempts are not limited to drug overdoses. If there is drug involvement in a suicide attempt by other means (e.g., cut wrists while drinking alcohol), the case is included as drug related. Excluded are suicide attempts with no drug involvement and suicide-related behaviors other than actual attempts (e.g., suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts); also excluded are suicide attempts involving just alcohol for patients age 21 or older.

Selected Substances: Drug-Related Suicide Attempts by Young Adults

Enlarge image

chart on selected substances: drug-related suicide attempts by young adults - click to enlarge image

* The alcohol category includes visits involving alcohol taken in combination with other drugs for all patients and visits involving just alcohol for patients age 18 to 20. DAWN does not track alcohol-only visits for patients age 21 or older.

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies (May 25, 2010). Figure 1. Selected Substances Involved in Emergency Department (ED) Visits for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts by Young Adults, by Gender: 2008. The DAWN Report: Emergency Department Visits for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts by Young Adults Age 18 to 24: 2008. Rockville, MD.

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Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration – 1 Choke Cherry Road – Rockville, MD 20857
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