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Am J Public Health. 2017 Mar;107(3):421-426. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303591. Epub 2017 Jan 19.

Suicide Deaths With Opioid Poisoning in the United States: 1999-2014.

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Jennifer Brennan Braden and Mark D. Sullivan are with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle. Mark J. Edlund is with the Research Triangle Institute International, Research Triangle Park, NC.



To describe trends in suicides with opioid poisoning noted as a contributing cause of death.


Using National Vital Statistics data (1999-2014), we calculated age-adjusted rates of suicide with opioid poisoning (International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision codes T40.0-T40.4) per 100 000 population per year and annual percentage change (APC) in rates. We used Joinpoint regression to examine trends in suicide rates and proportion of suicides involving opioids.


The annual age-adjusted death rate from suicide with opioid poisoning as a contributing cause of death increased from 0.3 per 100 000 in 1999 to 0.7 per 100 000 in 2009 (APC = 8.1%; P < .001), and remained at 0.6 to 0.7 per 100 000 through 2014. The percentage of all suicides with opioid poisoning listed as a contributing cause of death increased from 2.2% in 1999 to 4.4% in 2010 (P < .001). Rates were similar for men and women, higher among Whites than non-Whites, higher in the West, and highest for individuals aged 45 to 64 years.


Opioid involvement in suicides has doubled since 1999. These analyses underscore the need for health care providers to assess suicidal risk in patients receiving opioids.

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