Suicides by drug overdose increased among young people, elderly people, and Black women, despite overall downward trend.
A NIDA study of intentional drug overdose deaths, or suicides by an overdose of a medication or drug, found an overall decline in recent years in the U.S., but an increase in young people aged 15-24, older people aged 75-84, and non-Hispanic Black women. The study also found that women were consistently more likely than men to die from intentional drug overdoses, with the highest rates observed in women ages 45 to 64.
“The distinction between accidental and intentional overdose has important clinical implications, as we must implement strategies for preventing both,” said Nora Volkow, M.D., senior author on the study and director of NIDA. “To do so requires that we screen for suicidality among individuals who use opioids or other drugs, and that we provide treatment and support for those who need it, both for mental illnesses and for substance use disorders.”