Suicide and Opioids

Selected Injury-Related Death Rates, United States 2004-2018


This graph represents age-adjusted death rates over a 15-year period. Suicide and unintentional drug poisonings have generally seen sustained increases that are not seen in other injury-related causes of death, although in 2018, the age-adjusted rate of unintentional poisonings decreased. Motor vehicle deaths have seen a decline from 2005 and plateaued around 2014. Homicide age-adjusted rates plateaued and then decreased until 2014, when a slight increase was seen through 2018.1


Suicide Deaths by Method, United States 2018


This pie chart illustrates means of suicide deaths by various methods. Firearms accounted for a majority (51%) of the deaths by suicide, suffocation (29%) and other (7%). Poisonings accounted for 13% of suicide deaths in 2019. The accompanying bar graph illustrates the contribution of various substances to poisoning suicides. As the graph shows, other and unspecified drugs, medicaments and biological substances are contributors in over 45% of poisoning deaths.1


Serious Thoughts of Suicide and Pain Reliever Abuse, Adults (18+)


This bar graph includes adults (18+) who reported serious thoughts of suicide in the past year. When adults with past-year pain reliever abuse (including opioids) are compared with the general population, they are at higher risk for suicidal thoughts. This pattern has held true every year for the past several years.2



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2021). 1999-2019 Wide Ranging Online Data for Epidemiological Research (WONDER), Multiple Cause of Death files [Data file]. Retrieved from
  2. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2019) National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD.

PowerPoint Icon ImageThe charts and graphs in this section are also available as a PowerPoint slide set. Feel free to use this slide set to deliver a presentation about the scope of the suicide problem.