Drug Overdose Suicides May Be Going Undetected

February 09, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


According to a recent study, suicide deaths by drug overdose may be underreported. Using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, researchers examined suicide and undetermined deaths among people 15 and older between 2011 and 2013. They found that drug overdose deaths were more likely to be classified as accidental or undetermined compared to gunshot or hanging deaths. Supporting evidence, such as a suicide note, prior attempt, or mood disorder diagnosis, had a greater impact on drug overdose suicide death classification compared to gunshot or hanging deaths. Inconsistencies in death determination methods suggest that some drug overdose deaths may be misreported as accidents. Lead author Ian Rockett, an epidemiology professor at the West Virginia University School of Public Health, cautioned that these findings could have negative implications for prevention efforts. “The problem with inaccurate suicide accounting is that it impedes our understanding and prevention of suicide and drug deaths,” he said.

Spark Extra! Read the research article.