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Combined use of substances leads to increased risk of suicide, study shows

Toxicology reports show that individuals who commit suicide are often under the effects of multiple substances. These results present a sharp contrast to individuals who die in motor vehicle accidents where, typically, one substance – alcohol – is involved.

New Mexico MVCs and suicides

A study of 346 New Mexico residents who died in 2012 from either suicide or motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) found that, in the case of the former, alcohol and another drug, typically cocaine, were present. In the case of motor vehicle accidents, researchers note alcohol was often the only drug in the individual’s system. Based on these findings, researchers conclude that individuals prone to suicide self-medicate with alcohol to deal with depression and cocaine-induced depression.

The study involved individuals from ages 18 to 54. Of the 346, 265 were men, and 81 were women.

What this means for suicide prevention

Researchers note that the study results provide information on what preventive steps health care workers can take with respect to specific substances and types of injury.

Sovereign Health of El Paso specializes in treating substance abuse. We also are experts in treating co-occurring conditions (also known as dual diagnosis). According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2014, nearly 8 million American adults reported experiencing a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder. It is not unusual for an individual with schizophrenia or some other mental health disorder to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. At Sovereign Health of El Paso, we assess for all physical and mental health disorders. We treat addiction and the psychological factors that fuel it. Please contact the 24/7 helpline listed on this webpage for more information.

About the author

Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health. He worked over two years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at

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