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J Urban Health. 2004 Sep;81(3):505-15.

Attempted suicide among injecting and noninjecting cocaine users in Sydney, Australia.

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National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia.


A sample of 183 current cocaine users, 120 primary injecting cocaine users (ICUs), and 63 primary noninjecting cocaine users (NICUs) were administered a structured interview to ascertain attempted suicide histories, methods used, and factors associated with suicide attempts. All respondents were volunteers and current cocaine users recruited through a wide range of sources. The mean age of participants was 30.1 years, and 65% were male. The ICUs were older (32.3 vs. 26.7 years, respectively), more likely to be male (72% vs. 54%, respectively), to be unemployed (84% vs. 23%, respectively) and to have a prison history (53% vs. 1%, respectively) compared to NICUs. Of the sample, 31% had attempted suicide, 18% had done so on more than one occasion, and 8% had made an attempt in the preceding 12 months. Overall, 28% of the sample had been treated by a medical practitioner after an attempt. ICUs (38%) were significantly more likely than NICUs (10%) to have attempted suicide and to have done so on more than one occasion (23% vs. 3%, respectively). The most common method used among both groups was self-poisoning (ICUs 28%, NICUs 8%), primarily by drug overdose. Violent methods had been used by 22% of ICUs and 3% of NICUs. Multivariate analyses revealed that injecting, female gender, and more extensive polydrug use were independent predictors of a suicide attempt. The prevalence of suicide in this study indicates that it represents a major clinical issue among ICUs and to a lesser extent among noninjectors of the drug. Those treating cocaine users for drug dependence need to be aware of the salience of suicide as a problem, among injectors in particular.

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