Suicidal thoughts and behaviors among untreated illicit substance users: a population-based study

Shiraly, R., Jazayeri, S.A., Seifaei, A., Jeihooni, A.K. and Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, 2024. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors among untreated illicit substance users: a population-based study. Harm Reduction Journal, 21: 96. ISSN 1477-7517

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Objectives: Research regarding the contribution of specific psychoactive substances to suicidality has yielded equivocal results. The present study examined the prevalence and factors associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors among a population-based sample of untreated illicit substance users.

Methods: A total of 616 illicit substance users who were recruited from high-risk areas of Shiraz using snowball sampling participated in the study. Eligible participants were individuals aged 18 years and older who regularly used one illicit psychoactive substance (e.g., opioids, heroin, cannabinoids, stimulants, hallucinogens) for at least one year and who had received no treatment for their drug use during the past year. Data were collected regarding socio-demographic characteristics, mental history, and substance use habits. Data regarding suicidal thoughts and behaviors were assessed using the Beck Suicidal Ideation Scale (BSIS) and self-reports of previous suicide attempts. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to identify independent variables associated with suicidality.

Results: Among the participants, 23.6% reported having had suicidal thoughts during the past week and 6.7% reported having attempted suicide during the past year. Methamphetamine was reported as the primary substance of use among approximately half of the participants who attempted suicide during past year (49.2%). Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that current suicidal thoughts were independently associated with having no job, a history of mental health condition, previous suicidal attempts, concurrent use of more than one substance, and using methamphetamine and heroin as the primary substances. Suicidal thoughts were not associated with increased odds of regular opium and cannabis use.

Conclusion: Both methamphetamine and heroin use are significantly associated with current suicidal thoughts. Evaluation of the risk of suicidality by physicians and mental health care professionals in both community and outpatient settings would be especially appropriate among those individuals using these psychoactive substances.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Harm Reduction Journal
Creators: Shiraly, R., Jazayeri, S.A., Seifaei, A., Jeihooni, A.K. and Griffiths, M.D.
Publisher: Springer
Date: 16 May 2024
Volume: 21
ISSN: 1477-7517
Rights: © the author(s) 2024. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 20 May 2024 08:56
Last Modified: 20 May 2024 08:56

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