The connection between cannabis and suicide attempts is growing, according to WSU researchers. And although there is more to learn, it has experts concerned.
Author: Tim Gordon
Published: 4:42 PM PDT April 30, 2023
Updated: 4:42 PM PDT April 30, 2023
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VANCOUVER, Wash. — The connection between cannabis and suicide attempts is growing, according to researchers at Washington State University. And although there is more to learn, it has experts concerned.
The acceptance and use of cannabis in our culture is certainly increasing. In both Oregon, Washington and other states recreational marijuana is sold in a variety of forms. Data shows that at the same time, accidental cannabis poisonings have increased.
Now a new research study by Washington State University's College of Nursing looks at intentional cannabis poisoning, connected to suicide attempts.
“And that means that for whatever reason someone intended to commit suicide with cannabis on board,” said WSU Professor Tracy Klein.
One of several researchers involved in the study, Klein is quick to note that the vast majority of the suicide attempts, more than 92%, involved other substances in addition to cannabis. And the data cannot show a direct causal link between cannabis and suicide attempts.
That said, based on analysis of data from U.S. Poison centers, researchers found suspected suicidal cannabis exposures have increased 17% annually, over a period of 12 years.
And Klein said that is troubling, especially looking at the results for certain groups the past few years.
“We're seeing a great impact over COVID-19 to women and children in our data we saw an increase overall during the study period, in cannabis poisonings that increased year by year. And remember, these are intentional poisonings,” said Klein.
The researcher said another issue raised by their research is the cannabis self-medication factor for those with mental health conditions, that may already make them more prone to considering ending their lives.
“So we are very concerned about patients with depression or anxiety who are also using cannabis, perhaps with little direction, and are either not talking to their healthcare professional about it or their healthcare professional is not asking.”
Although the findings of the study don’t draw absolute conclusions, it does show there is more to consider and safeguard, in a world increasingly open to cannabis.