FRIDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Drug users who inject
themselves with methamphetamine are 80 percent more likely to
attempt suicide than those abusing other drugs, new research
The magnified risk for meth users is probably rooted in a
mixture of social, structural and neurobiological factors, say
researchers from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public
Health in New York City and the University of British Columbia in
"Compared to other injection drug users, it is possible that methamphetamine users are more isolated and have poorer social support systems," study author and Mailman postdoctoral fellow Brandon Marshall said in a Columbia news release.
Marshall and his colleagues report their findings in the
December issue of
Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
The team used material from interviews involving nearly 1,900
men and women that were conducted in the Vancouver area over seven
years, from 2001 to 2008. The authors note that Vancouver's
downtown eastside district is well known as a center for illegal
"This is one of North America's largest cohorts of injection drug users, and the research is among the first longitudinal studies to examine attempts of suicide by injection drug users," Marshall (who is also a research coordinator for the Urban Health Research Initiative in British Colombia) said in the release.
A little more than a third of the participants were women, and
another third were of Aboriginal descent. All responded to
questions regarding their drug use, treatment experience and risky
behaviors with respect to HIV. All told, 8 percent were found to
have previously attempted suicide.
The authors found that meth injection was linked to a greater
risk for suicide attempts across the board. That is, even
infrequent meth users bore an elevated risk for attempting suicide,
while those who frequently injected meth faced the highest such
"The high rate of attempted suicide observed in this study suggests that suicide prevention efforts should be an integral part of substance abuse treatment programs," Marshall said. "In addition, people who inject methamphetamine but are not in treatment would likely benefit from improved suicide risk assessment and other mental health support services within health care settings."
The study was funded by both the U.S. National Institutes of
Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
For more on methamphetamine, visit the
U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
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