Opioid use may lead to suicide in elderly

January 3, 2018, Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics

A new study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics suggests that suicidal ideations and suicide attempts are linked to opioid use and pain sensitivity in the elderly. The recent dramatic increase in opioid prescribing and their inappropriate use has led to an epidemic of opioid addictions, often generalizing to other substance use disorders and overdose deaths. In the US, the suicide death rate with opioid overdose increased from 2.2 percent in 1999 to 4.4 percent in 2010.

Authors investigated differences in terms of analgesic consumption and physical pain between (1) subjects with suicidal ideation during follow-up or with a lifetime history of suicide attempt, (2) affective controls, i.e., subjects with a lifetime history of major depression Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) or high depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression, CES-D >16) during the study but without suicidal ideations/attempts and (3) healthy controls, i.e., having neither suicidal ideations/attempts nor major depression, and having low depressive symptoms and no psychotropic medication use during the study.

The proportion of subjects taking analgesics was 37.6 percent in subjects with suicidal ideations/attempts, 30.2 percent in affective controls, and 21.6 percent in healthy controls. A higher rate of analgesic consumption in subjects with suicidal ideation/attempt versus healthy controls was reported. For nonopioid drugs, proportions were 21.8 percent in subjects with suicidal ideation/attempt, 18.5 percent in affective controls, and 15.5 percent in healthy controls; for opioid drugs, they were 15.7 percent in subjects with suicidal ideation/attempt, 11.7 percent in affective controls, and 6.1 percent in healthy controls. Also comparing nonopioid and opioid drug consumption, a difference between subjects with suicidal ideation/attempt and healthy controls was found. When compared users to analgesic nonusers, subjects with suicidal ideation/attempt were more prone to use opioids than healthy controls (suicidal ideations/attempts: odds ratio (OR) = 2.78).

These findings point out to the increased consumption of opioids in subjects with /attempt compared to healthy controls which might suggest an increased sensitivity to psychological and/or physical pain in suicide.

Explore further: The strong link between pain killers and suicide in the elderly

More information: Raffaella Calati et al. Suicidal Ideation and Suicide Attempts in the Elderly Associated with Opioid Use and Pain Sensitivity, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (2017). DOI: 10.1159/000478021

Related Stories

The strong link between pain killers and suicide in the elderly

October 23, 2013
A paper published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics has investigated the relationship between pain killers and suicidal behavior in the elderly.

Suicidal ideation prevalent in patients with fibromyalgia

March 2, 2015
(HealthDay)—Suicidal ideation is prevalent among patients with fibromyalgia and is strongly associated with mental health, according to a study published in the February issue of Pain Practice.

Traumatic stress interacts with bipolar disorder genetic risk to increase odds of suicide attempt

December 4, 2017
Genetic susceptibility to bipolar disorder can increase the risk for suicide attempt, but only among those who also have experienced traumatic stress, reports a study published in the December 2017 issue of the Journal of ...

Study of Chinese teens examines nonmedical use of Rx and suicidal behaviors

August 15, 2016
The nonmedical use of prescription drugs and the misuse of sedatives and opioids were associated with subsequent suicidal thoughts or attempts in a study of Chinese adolescents, according to an article published online by ...

High levels of burnout, stress for U.S. surgical residents

November 17, 2017
(HealthDay)—Surgical residents have high levels of burnout, which is associated with high stress, depression, and suicidal ideation, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Gabapentin co-use may increase risk of fatal opioid overdose

October 3, 2017
Co-prescription of the anticonvulsant gabapentin is associated with an increased risk of opioid-related death in people who are prescribed opioid painkillers, according to a new study published in PLOS Medicine.

Recommended for you

The connection between alcoholism and depression

September 21, 2018
Alcoholism and depression often go hand-in-hand.

Even toddlers weigh risks, rewards when making choices

September 21, 2018
Every day, adults conduct cost-benefit analyses in some form for decisions large and small, economic and personal: Bring a lunch or go out? Buy or rent? Remain single or start a family? All are balances of risk and reward.

Early warning sign of psychosis detected

September 21, 2018
Brains of people at risk of psychosis exhibit a pattern that can help predict whether they will go on to develop full-fledged schizophrenia, a new Yale-led study shows. The findings could help doctors begin early intervention ...

In depression the brain region for stress control is larger

September 20, 2018
Although depression is one of the leading psychiatric disorders in Germany, its cause remains unclear. A recent study at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig, Germany, found ...

Quitting junk food produces similar withdrawal-type symptoms as drug addiction

September 20, 2018
If you plan to try and quit junk food, expect to suffer similar withdrawal-type symptoms—at least during the initial week—like addicts experience when they attempt to quit using drugs.

American girls read and write better than boys

September 20, 2018
As early as the fourth grade, girls perform better than boys on standardized tests in reading and writing, and as they get older that achievement gap widens even more, according to research published by the American Psychological ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.