Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Links between suicidal intent, polysubstance use, and medical treatment after non-fatal opioid overdose.

Gicquelais RE, Jannausch M, Bohnert ASB, Thomas L, Sen S, Fernandez AC. Links between suicidal intent, polysubstance use, and medical treatment after non-fatal opioid overdose. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2020 Jul 1; 212:108041.

Related HSR&D Project(s)

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: Suicidal thinking during non-fatal overdose may elevate risk for future completed suicide or intentional overdose. Long-term outcomes following an intentional non-fatal overdose may be improved through specific intervention and prevention responses beyond those designed for unintentional overdoses, yet little research has assessed suicidal intent during overdoses or defined characteristics that differentiate these events from unintentional overdoses. METHODS: Patients with a history of opioid overdose (n = 274) receiving residential addiction treatment in the Midwestern United States completed self-report surveys to classify their most recent opioid overdose as unintentional, actively suicidal (wanted to die), or passively suicidal (didn''t care about the risks). We characterized correlates of intent using descriptive statistics and prevalence ratios. We also examined how intent related to thoughts of self-harm at the time of addiction treatment. RESULTS: Of opioid overdoses, 51 % involved suicidal intent (44 % passive and 7 % active). Active suicidal intent was positively associated with hospitalization. Active/passive intent (vs. no intent, aPR: 2.2, 95 % CI: 1.4-3.5) and use of = 5 substances (vs. 1 substance, aPR: 3.6, 95 % CI: 1.2-10.6) at the last opioid overdose were associated with having thoughts of self-harm or suicide in the 2 weeks before survey completion in adjusted models. Participants who reported active/passive intent more commonly used cocaine or crack (27 %) with opioids during their last overdose relative to unintentional overdoses (16 %). CONCLUSIONS: Over half of opioid overdoses among individuals in addiction treatment involved some degree of suicidal thinking. Identifying patients most at risk will facilitate better targeting of suicide prevention and monitoring services.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.