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Male Suicide Attempts Increase
Young men lead the way when it comes to video games, sports, and even action flicks. Disturbingly, young men aged 21 to 34 also lead the way in hospital emergency room (ER) visits for drug-related suicide attempts among from 2005 to 2009.
The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration reports that there were 77,971 men who went to the ER for drug related suicide attempts in 2009.
“This study [also] shows an increase in the number of people using prescription medications for suicide attempts,” says researcher Peter J. Delany, PhD, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in Rockville, Md. “This is not showing an increase in suicide attempts, just an increase in emergency room visits for drug-related suicide attempts.”
The number of ER visits for suicide attempts involving antidepressants increased by 155% among men aged 21 to 34, from 1,519 in 2005 to 3,876 in 2009. The number of ER visits for suicide attempts involving anti-anxiety and insomnia medications increased by 93.4% from 2005 to 2009, the data show.ER visits for suicide attempts among males aged 35 to 49 that involved narcotic pain relievers nearly doubled from 2005 to 2009, and these numbers almost tripled among men aged 50 and older, the study showed.
Researchers classified the ER visits as a drug-related suicide attempt if the hospital ER staff labeled it as a suicide attempt, and the person was admitted for a drug-related suicide attempt, not an unintentional overdose, and the visit involved a drug as either the direct cause of the ER visit or as a contributing factor.
“It is becoming very pervasive,” says Peter Delany of SAMHSA. “If you make it harder to commit suicide, it’s actually harder,” he says. Be alert to suicide warning signs such as withdrawal from others, talking about death and dying, anxiety, agitation, rapid mood changes, and increasing use of alcohol or drugs, he says.
“If you see any of these signs, try to get the person help, and if you believe them to be a danger to themselves, call 911,” he says. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK) is a free 24-hour hotline for people who are at risk of suicide.