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More than other drugs, injected meth is associated with an increased risk of attempted suicide
Date:12/22/2011

December 22, 2011 -- The dire physical and mental health effects of injecting methamphetamine are well known, but there's been little research about suicidal behavior and injecting meth. 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 methamphetamine had an 80% greater risk of attempting suicide than drug users who inject other substances.

Although the causal pathway between injecting methamphetamine and suicidal behavior requires further investigation, study authors suggest that it likely involves a combination of neurobiological, social, and structural mechanisms, at least in the population studied.

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

"Compared to other injection drug users, it is possible that methamphetamine users are more isolated and have poorer social support systems," said lead author Brandon Marshall, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Mailman School of Public Health and research coordinator for the Urban Health Research Initiative in British Colombia. "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," said Dr. Marshall. "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 Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study is part of the ongoing British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS' Urban Health Research Initiative, which focuses on the effects of substance use, infectious diseases, and the urban environment on the health of urban populations. Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is known as a center for illicit drug use, and fatalities from drug overdoses and drug-related violence are common.
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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