242424 Exploring connections between suicidal behavior and language acquisition in a Deaf population with co-occurring substance use disorder

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jared Embree, BA , Sardi, Wright State University, Dayton, OH
Susan Fraker, AAS, BA, CI & CT, NAD IV , Sardi, Wright State University, Dayton, OH
Nikki L. Rogers, PhD , Department of Community Health, Substance Abuse Resources & Disability Issues (SARDI) Program, Wright State University, Boonshoft School of Medicine, Dayton, OH
Jo Ann Ford, MA, CCDC III , Sardi, Wright State University, Dayton, OH
Dennis Moore, EdD , School of Medicine, Wright State University, Kettering, OH
Josephine Wilson, DDS, PhD , Boonshoft School of Medicine, Wright State University, Dayton, OH
Since 2008, the Deaf Off Drugs and Alcohol (DODA) Program has provided culturally appropriate cessation and recovery support services via e-therapy to Deaf/HH individuals with a clinically diagnosed substance use disorder (SUD). Over 150 Deaf consumers have received treatment through DODA, to date. Analysis of intake interviews revealed that 49.3% abused alcohol, 30.4% abused marijuana, 18.8% abused cocaine, 7% abused opiates, and 4.0% abused prescription drugs. Surprisingly, the prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts in the Deaf population was 46.5%, which is significantly higher than the rate (15 30%) reported for other disabled groups with SUD. In addition to attempts, suicidal ideation was reported by 53.5% of Deaf consumers, with the highest rates among women. An initial examination of the variables associated with suicide attempts was conducted. Past mental health Diagnosis were significantly associated with attempts (chi square = 20.31, p < 0.001). In addition, communication ability was also associated with increased likelihood of suicide attempts. Deaf individuals who had delayed language acquisition in youth had higher rates of suicide attempts: among the prelingually deaf, language acquisition was on average one year later among those with reported suicide attempts than those without. We propose that if language is delayed though major developmental milestones of childhood, Deaf individuals may have less access to the tools necessary to build social support and positive social identity. Alternatively, the attempts may represent a maladaptive form of communication stemming from delayed ability to express unmet emotional needs.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Provision of health care to the public
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Learners will be able to describe the proposed association between language acquisition delay and suicidal behavior in the Deaf population described. 2. Learners will be able to discuss substance abuse prevalence in the Deaf population described.

Keywords: Deaf, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a member of the Deaf Off Drugs & Alcohol program staff, and evaluate substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.