The serious mental and physical health issues of injecting meth are generally well known, but there has however been very little research regarding injecting meth and suicidal behavior. In a 7 year study, researchers found out that those drug users who were injecting meth had an 80% higher risk of attempted suicide compared to drug users that injected other substances.
Even though causal pathway between suicidal behavior and injecting meth needs more investigating, the researchers suggest that it most likely involves a mix of social, neurobiological and structural mechanisms, at least from the population observed.
When compared to other drug users that injected, it’s possible that meth users tend to be more isolated and have poorer socially supportive systems. The higher rate of attempted suicide seen in this research indicates that suicide prevention efforts need to be an important part of drug abuse treatment programs. Furthermore, people injecting meth but aren’t in a treatment program would probably benefit from better suicide risk assessment as well as other mental health assistance in healthcare settings.
Taking part in the 7 year study was by word of mouth, referrals and street outreach, and included an interviewer given list of questions on socio demographic characteristics, HIV risk behaviors, drug use and treatment utilization. The study evaluated 1,873 individuals whose average age was 31, and 36.2% of them were female. In total, 8% of study participants recorded a suicide attempt.
This was one of North America’s largest studies of drug users that inject, and the study is one of the first longitudinal studies to look at attempts of suicide by drug users that inject. The majority of the 5,000 users are concentrated within a small neighborhood, which makes it a logical environment to do this kind of study.
The researchers also found out that injecting meth infrequently was a predictor for attempted suicide, while injecting meth frequently was linked to the greatest risk of attempted suicide.