Drug-Related Suicide Attempts Rise Among Women 50 and Older

Suicide attempts, in which drugs played a role, jumped 49 percent among women ages 50 and older from 2005 to 2009, according to a new federal report. The report, prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found that 16,757 women 50 and older had a drug-related suicide attempt in 2009, compared with 11,235 in 2005.

ABC News reports that emergency room visits for suicide attempts among women of all ages involving drugs to treat anxiety and insomnia increased 56 percent during this period, from 32,426 in 2005 to 50,548 in 2009. ER visits for suicide attempts among women involving pain relievers rose more than 30 percent, from 36,563 in 2005 to 47,838 in 2009.

Cases involving hydrocodone rose 67 percent, from 4,613 to 7,715, and cases involving oxycodone rose 210 percent, from 1,895 in 2005 to 5,875 in 2009.

Dr. Elizabeth F. Howell, a former President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, told ABC News that the findings are not surprising because doctors are relying more on medications to treat both physical and psychological problems as they spend less time with patients.

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    June 27, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    This is extremely unfortunate. This is a perfect example of why I believe drugs of all varieties are highly overprescribed. Obviously there are many people who have a legitimate need for various medications, but the sad fact is that many medical and psychological professionals have come to view them as a quick easy fix. I have literally heard groups of women, on several occasions, discuss which doctors they use to easily procure whatever medication they are seeking. I can only hope that these new statistics will open some eyes and perhaps enable the establishment of some sort of oversight.

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