Two new reports highlight the rise in drug-related suicide attempt visits to hospital emergency
departments especially among certain age groups. The reports by the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show that overall there was a 51 percent increase for these
types of visits among people 12 and older — from 151,477 visits in 2005 to 228,277 visits in 2011.
One report analyzed the increase in emergency department visits by age and found that the overall
rise resulted from increases in visits by people aged 18 to 29 and people aged 45 to 64. Visits
involving 18 to 29 year olds increased from 47,312 in 2005 to 75,068 — a 58 percent increase.
Visits involving people aged 45 to 64 increased from 28,802 in 2005 to 58,776 visits in 2011 — a
104 percent increase. In 2011, these two age groups comprised approximately 60 percent of all
drug-related emergency department visits involving suicide attempts.
The other SAMHSA report focused on the 45 to 64 age group, which had the largest increase in
emergency department visits involving drug related suicide attempts, and characterized these
visits. The report found that the majority (96 percent in 2011) of these visits involved the
non-medical use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter-medications. In 2011, these drugs
included anti-anxiety and insomnia medications (48 percent), pain relievers (29 percent) and
antidepressants (22 percent). Other substances involved in these drug-related suicide attempt
emergency department visits during the same year included alcohol (39 percent) and illicit drugs
The report also found that these visits by patients aged 45 to 64 doubled for both men and women
during this time period.
SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center at http://www.sprc.org
provides information on a wide
range of suicide prevention programs and resources who are dealing with this issue can draw upon.
SAMHSA’s National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or
provides real time, toll free, confidential suicide
prevention counseling services 24/7 all year round to people in immediate crisis, or who may know
someone who they fear might be considering suicide