Involvement of alcohol combined with other drugs in emergency department visits for drug-related suicide attempts compared with other drug-related visits* for patients aged 35 to 64: 2011
In 2013, an estimated 1.3 million adults aged 18 or older (0.6 percent of the population) attempted suicide in the past year, 2.7 million (1.1 percent) made suicide plans, and 9.3 million (3.9 percent) had serious thoughts of suicide.1 The rate of death by suicide for middle-aged adults (aged 35 to 64) increased by 28.4 percent from 1999 to 2010.2
According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), an estimated 228,366 emergency department (ED) visits were for drug-related suicide attempts in 2011. Of these, middle-aged patients aged 35 to 64 accounted for 99,559 of these visits. About 39 percent (38,616 visits) of ED visits for drug-related suicide attempts by middle-aged patients involved alcohol combined with other drugs. In contrast, only 24 percent of other drug-related ED visits (excluding adverse reactions) by middle-aged patients involved alcohol combined with other drugs.
Although substance abuse problems are not always present in patients who visit the ED for drug-related suicide attempts, alcohol and drug use are commonly associated with suicidal behavior.3 People who are seriously considering suicide may have a lower risk of suicide attempts after they stop using drugs and alcohol, compared with those who are suicidal and are still using drugs or alcohol.4 Therefore, families, friends, clinicians, and suicide prevention programs should consider encouraging those at risk for suicide to abstain from using alcohol and drugs.