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There Are More Narcotic Deaths By Suicide Than Ever

Refinery29 logo Refinery29 27/2/2017 Kasandra Brabaw
Refinery29 © Photographed by Megan Madden. Refinery29

We may think of suicide as something that happens among the young. In fact, when you Google "suicide myths," three of the top six websites focus on myths about teen suicide.

While suicide prevention is certainly important among youths, suicide is a risk for people of all ages as well as races, sexual orientations, genders, classes, and other identities. Suicide does not discriminate.

In 2013, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for all ages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And it's on the rise, specifically suicide by narcotics, a new study shared with Refinery29 finds.

Researchers at the research institute RTI International and the University of Washington reviewed 15 years of data, between 1999 and 2014, from the CDC. There were 640 suicide deaths by opioids in 1999 and 1,825 in 2014, most of them involving prescription drugs instead of illegal drugs, the study found.

These deaths quadrupled in people 55 to 65, but were highest overall in those who were between 45 and 54.

Other recent research, over the same 15-year period finds that suicide rates are rising among women as well.

Researchers theorize that the rise maybe have something to do with the amount of people with chronic pain and mental health disorders who are given prescription opioids to help with the pain.

“This study brings us a step closer to understanding the relationship between suicide rates and prescription opioids," Mark Edlund, MD, PhD, study author and senior research scientist at RTI International, told Refinery29. "The findings show the need for doctors who prescribe opioids to assess the suicide risk in their patients so they can better care for them.”

If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.

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