Injected meth ups suicide risk

Turns out injecting methamphetamine doesn’t only negatively effect physical and mental health; it can also make a person more likely to attempt suicide.

In a recent study, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the University of British Columbia found that drug users who inject meth had an 80 percent greater risk of attempting suicide than those who inject other drugs.

The study was published in the December issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The research was performed through the Vancouver (B.C.) Injection Drug Users Study, which is part of an initiative that focuses on the effects of substance abuse, infectious diseases and the urban environment on the health of urban environments.

“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,” said Dr. Brandon Marshall, lead author and research coordinator for the Urban Health Research Initiative in British Columbia.

Participation in the seven-year study, which ended in May 2008, was through word of mouth, street outreach and referrals. The study included an interviewer-administered questionnaire on sociodemographic characteristics, drug use, treatment utilization and HIV risk behaviors.

The researchers evaluated 1,873 participants whose median age was 31, while 36.2% of participants were female and 32.1% were of Aboriginal ancestry. In total, 8% percent of study participants reported a suicide attempt.

Marshal suspects the increased suicide risk is because methamphetamine users are more isolated and have poorer social support systems.

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