Suicide by Opioid: New Research Suggests Overdoses Should Be Classified as Self-Harm

September 14, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Kaiser Health News

A new report suggests drug overdose deaths should be classified as self-injury. In current practice, opioid and other drug overdose deaths are often labeled accidental unless there is a suicide note. To account for all deaths arising from “purposeful” behaviors, researchers developed a model for measuring self-injury mortality that combined drug overdose deaths and suicides. According to this model, self-injury is the seventh leading cause of death nationally, just higher than diabetes. Combining drug overdose and suicide deaths into one classification recognizes the mental health issues underlying both, said lead author Ian Rockett. “By always separating drug deaths from suicide is to underestimate the mental health crisis,” said Rockett, professor emeritus at West Virginia University. “These are all mental health issues, and they need to be on the front burner.”

Spark Extra! Read the report and lead author’s blog post.