Americas on-going drug abuse epidemic continues into this millenium, and there are many social problems linked to drug use, including suicide. The disparity of daily life in suburbs or the inner cities are why many people have fallen into their reliance on drugs, including alcohol. Patros and Shamoo (1989) describe the abuse of drugs and alcohol as a slow form of suicide. But many drug abusers choose to end their life before drugs have time to claim it by way of an overdose. Contradictory to popular belief, teens are not of the majority of drug related deaths.
Teenagers made up just two percent of drug related deaths in a 1994 survey of coroners. Many of these numbers are down dramatically from the 1970s, when illegal drugs were more available throughout the United States. Half of drug overdoses and suicides nationwide are men age thirty-five to fifty-four. Possible reasons for the dramatic difference between teenage drug deaths and middle-aged drug deaths are mid-life depression prior to drug use, more time to build as worsening habit, and the fact that most young people are primarily experimenting with drugs and not using them on a full time basis.
Interestingly enough, Vietnam veterans had a higher level of drug-abuse fatalities than the rest of the population, probably due to their exposure to drugs derived from opium and the use of drugs to avoid flashbacks. Suicide rates among female drug users are higher than males. A cause for this may be that women users have fewer social supports and higher rates of divorce. Racially, African Americans have had a lower drug related suicide rate than Caucasians in the past.
But this number is expected to increase because of the increase in substance abuse in the African American population. African Americans are at a higher risk of self-destructive behavior. Intoxication from alcohol or drug use often leads to suicidal behavior. Alcoholics who are also depressed have an enormous rate of suicide. Both depressants and stimulants can impair judgement, which produce disturbances and intense suicidal depression. Depressants such as alcohol, Valium, and Librium are commonly used substances.
In the case of Glasgow, Scotland, where ten percent of all of Britains deaths occur, the areas poor employment rate and young citizens bleak outlooks on life have brought on a new string of drug addiction, and in turn, deaths. Their drug of choice is heroin, but the combine in tranquilizers in an attempt to draw closer to a state of the unconsciousness. In the United States, minority youth try to escape the hell of the inner city. There is an alarming increase in drug abuse and violence, which soon will lead to suicide attempts.
This brings on another topic along the same lines which is the abuse of prescription drugs such as Valium or Ritalin. Many deaths occur because of a fatal combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. Many recent studies have concluded that drug related suicide attempts are made primarily by a drug abuser who is into hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, or a combination of prescription drugs. In 1980, 400 American men age thirty-five to fifty-four, died from overdoses. In 1994, approximately 3,500 died. Middle- aged men are now twenty times more likely to die from drugs than are teenagers.
Drugs such as marijuana may contribute to mood disorders, which in turn, may predispose someone to be at risk for suicide. But this would only be an indirect link. Marijuana is said to only stimulate pre-existing mental disposition toward possible suicide. The most available illegal drug seems to be the least destructive. In conclusion, teenage drug- user suicide rates may be down, but risks for our future generations are tremendous. There will be an expected fifteen percent increase in suicides overall in the United States ( U. S.
Public Health Service). Studies say that an adolescent who experiments with drugs is at a greater risk for suicide if they come from a family with a history of substance abuse. In looking at the numbers of middle-aged drug related suicides, the outlook does not look good for their children. Chemical dependency deepens aggression, which, if turned inward, may result in suicide. In this world full of violent sports and gruesome video games, aggression is not hard to come by. If chemical dependency was added to the equation, statistics may change.