Study: Increase in older women attempting suicide via drug overdose

Massachusetts and several other New England state participate in a federal project called the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), “a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department (ED) visits and drug-related deaths to track the impact of drug use, misuse, and abuse in the U.S.”

The HHS project just released number that found the number of women over the age of 50 attempting suicide via drugs rose 49 percent between 2005 and 2009. The study concludes that The increase reflects the increase in
the number of women in that age group, not an increase in visits.

But, it appears that demographicd don’t explain the entire increase: :23.8 ED visits per 100,000 population in 2005  v. 32.3 visits per 100,000 population in 2009.

This from the study:

The mental and physical health needs of women vary across the life span, and older womenrepresent one of the Nation’s fastest growing populations.4 Problems such as pain and sleepdisorders can lead to increased use of prescription drugs to treat theseconditions. Also, older women may experience depression because of health
changes or other negative life events. Expanded research on women’s agingissues and the potential use of these drugs as a method of, or influence on, suicide attempts is critical

More on the study and Boston specific trends in drug-related ED visits here.


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