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Drug use and suicidal ideation: Gender differences from a cross sectional study

S. Hope Gilbert, PhD, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, 410.502.5368, sgilber3@jhmi.edu and Carl A Latkin, PhD, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N Broadway, Room 737, Baltimore, MD 21205.

Background: Drug use has been associated with elevated rates of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and actual suicides. Lifetime rates of suicide attempts among drug users have been reported as high as 28% for males and 61% for females (Mino, Bousquet, & Broers, 1999), with suicidal ideation a prominent risk factor for the occurrence of those attempts. Two primary areas that have been consistently found to identify thoughts of suicidal ideation include feelings of hopelessness and verbalizing a suicidal plan. Many studies have examined the relationship between specific types of drug use, particularly cocaine and heroin, and suicidal behaviors.

Methods: The participants for this analysis were from the Self-Help in Eliminating Life Threatening Diseases (SHIELD) study. Four questions were asked to participants to identify the presence of suicidal ideation within the last month, chronbach’s alpha = 0.72 for internal consistency. Multiple logistic regression models were used to assess type and route of drug use as risk factors for current suicidal ideation.

Results and Conclusion: The findings from the multivariate logistic regression models indicated strong gender differences. Route of injecting drugs, regardless of drug type, was a significant risk factor for suicidal ideation among females (OR = 2.2, p-value = 0.03). Among males, significant correlates of suicidal ideation included heroin (OR = 1.6, p-value = 0.05) and cocaine use (OR = 1.7; p-value = 0.03). Implications from this study addressed gaps in the current literature for gender differences among drug users and suicidal behaviors.

Learning Objectives: The learning objectives for this abstract are as follows

Keywords: Drug Use, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Co-morbidity and Treatment Effectiveness Poster Session

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA