Hospitalizations for Suicide-Related Drug Poisonings and Co-occurring Alcohol Overdoses in Adolescents (Ages 12–17) and Young Adults (Ages 18–24) in the United States, 1999–2008: Results from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample

Authors


Address correspondence to Aaron M. White, PhD, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 5635 Fishers Lane, MSC 9304, Room 2074, Bethesda, MD 20892-9304;

E-mail: whitea4@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

Drug poisoning is the leading method of suicide-related deaths among females and third among males in the United States. Alcohol can increase the severity of drug poisonings, yet the prevalence of alcohol overdoses in suicide-related drug poisonings (SRDP) remains unclear. Data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample was examined to determine rates of inpatient hospital stays for SRDP and co-occurring alcohol overdoses in adolescents (ages 12–17) and young adults (ages 18–24) between 1999 and 2008. Among adolescents, there were 14,615 hospitalizations for drug poisonings in 2008, of which 72% (10,462) were suicide-related at a cost of $43 million. Rates of SRDP in this age group decreased between 1999 and 2008. The prevalence of co-occurring alcohol overdoses increased from 5% in 1999 to 7% in 2008. Among young adults, there were 32,471 hospitalizations for drug poisonings in 2008, of which 64% (20,746) were suicide-related at a cost of $110 million. Rates of SRDP did not change significantly between 1999 and 2008. The prevalence of co-occurring alcohol overdoses increased from 14% in 1999 to 20% in 2008. Thus, while rates of SRDP decreased for adolescents and remained unchanged for young adults, the prevalence of co-occurring alcohol overdoses increased for both age groups. Such hospitalizations provide important opportunities to employ intervention techniques to prevent further suicide attempts.

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