Post-Mortem Presence of Drugs and Method of Completed Suicide in Colorado

Connor Sheehan, University of Colorado at Boulder
Richard G. Rogers, University of Colorado at Boulder

Suicide is a serious public health challenge. Although much previous work has explored the determinants of suicide, comparatively little has analyzed which factors predict the specific method of suicide. We employ multinomial models to examine the method of suicide as reported in the Colorado Violent Death Reporting System. We find that drug use is strongly predictive of the method of completed suicide. Specifically, we find that decedents on antidepressants were significantly more likely to use methods besides firearms. Decedents on amphetamines were more likely to use gas self-poisoning and other methods than firearms. Those on marijuana were generally more likely to use firearms than other methods, while those on opiates were most likely to overdose. Post mortem drug use has stronger associations with method used for suicide than other important demographic characteristics. These results indicate that in addition to population-level suicide prevention strategies should focus specifically on drug users.

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Presented in Poster Session 7