One thing I hear little of in mainstream media is how many suicides this opiate crisis has triggered. Many of the people suffering substance abuse disorder (addiction) also suffer a mental illness such as anxiety, bipolar or depression.
Throw drug abuse in there with a mental illness, and chances of suicide increase dramatically.
We hear a lot in the media about overdoses and we should be. We have a record breaking epidemic of them.
But what about the suicides triggered by drug addiction or withdrawal?How many of those overdoses are really suicides? How many take their lives in some other way as a result of their misery with their addiction?
Many of those in recovery will tell you they felt suicidal when they were using. Or withdrawing.
But prior to my son taking his life as a result of depression and withdrawal from heroin, I had never heard that suicide was possibility. Not once. They take shoe strings and cords out of sweatpants for people going into detox. They talk about it on recovery boards all the time.
But in mainstream media? The subject of suicide and addiction is rarely spoken of. Therefore those of us who do not frequent those boards don’t know about it.
Suicides have tripled since 1999. It’s the second leading cause of death across college campuses nationwide. No doubt drugs and alcohol have a hand in this rise. Addiction rates are above the national average for veterans and as a group, they have one of the highest suicide rates.
I worried night after night I’d get that call. And when it came, I was utterly shocked to find out it was a suicide. Yet it’s actually a common cause of death among those who suffer addiction.
My son was trying to hint at his suicidal thoughts about a month before he died, right after detox. I know now these phrases indicate a suicide risk.
“I don’t want to ever go through that again.”
“I felt so lonely in detox.”
“I am so sorry I am such a bad kid. I will try to be better.”
“I don’t think I was meant to live a long life.”
In his text message below from May 2, 2015 –about a month before he died, you see these sentences.
“Withdrawal made me feel so alone”
“It made me hate myself.” Again, strong indicators of suicidal ideation.
It’s time we recognize that addiction is a mental illness. Mental illness is often the cause of suicide. And suicide is frequently a cause of death from addiction.
If you have an addict in your family, educate yourselves on what phrases indicate suicidal thoughts.