News from the FDA/CDC

Drugs identified after suicide deaths



Antidepressants and alcohol were each identified in more than 40% of tests performed after suicide deaths in 2014, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System.

Of the 14,834 suicide deaths reported that year in the system’s 18 participating states, tests for alcohol – conducted for 53% (7,883) of decedents – were the most commonly performed and were the second most likely to be positive among drugs with data available: The rate was 40.2%. Among the tests for blood alcohol concentration, a level of 0.08 g/dL or higher, which is over the legal limit in all states, was seen in almost 70% of positive results, Katherine A. Fowler, PhD, and her associates at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reported in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summaries.

Rates of positive drug test results in suicide decedents, 2014
Antidepressants had the highest positivity rate for drugs included in the analysis: 40.8% of 3,862 tests conducted in 2014. Benzodiazepines, identified in 32.6% of the tests performed for them, were the next most commonly seen drug, followed by opiates (30%) and marijuana (21%), the investigators said. The highest suicide rates were found among men aged 85 and older. Among the subgroup of male decedents, the highest suicide rates were among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Natives and non-Hispanic whites.

The 18 states that collected statewide data for 2014 – Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin – represent just over 33% of the U.S. population.

SOURCE: Fowler KA et al. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2018;67(SS-2):1-36. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.ss6702a1.

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