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Uruguayan Medical Journal

ISSN: 1688-0390

Vol.23 - Nº 4 - Dic. 2007

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Suicide attempts and psychoactive substance useand dependence

Rev Med Urug 2007; 23: 221-232
Full text (spanish) |  Full text (spanish) (New windows, pdf) | Abstract


Introduction: suicide rates in Uruguay are high considering regional levels (10/100.000 inhabitants). Internation ally, suicide attempts are estimated to be 10 times greater than actual achieved suicides; and drug use appears to be a predisposing factor for aggressive behaviors. Several studies conducted underline drug addicts are a high-risk population group.

Objectives: taking this observation as a starting point, the drug-use patients who consult the Drug Dependency Service at the Maciel Hospital, and the specific objective was to determine whether or not suicide attempts are present in that population.

Method: a descriptive study was conducted, and the following criteria were used to take the corresponding samples: a) include patients who consulted the service for the first time, and b) exclude patients with a presence of Axis I mental disorders (DSM IV) which might have an impact on suicide attempts.

Results: 95 patients were found to consult the service for the first time between July and October 2004. We under line the prevalence of male patients (80%) ?women accounted for the remaining 20%; 52.6% of them were aged between 20 and 29 years old; 43.2% were unemployed, 45.2% had a job and had completed secondary education; 60% presented suicide ideation, as it arose from our interviews. 78.9% entered into de iedependenceló category and 21.1% entered into the ihabusele category 34.7% presented one or more than one suicide attempt, 51.5% required hospitalization, 10.8% evidenced a relatively high degree of lethality , 59.5% medium degree of lethality and 29.7% low degree of lethality. No significant difference was found in terms of gender (48.5% women, 51.5% men). Within this sub-group, 75.8% were drug-dependent and 24.2% were drug abusers.

Conclusions: according to this data, male consumers with a diagnosed dependency, unemployed, having completed secondary education, aged between 20 to 29 are those more likely to perform suicide attempts. The same would apply for women should who present the same diagnosis, are unemployed, same educational level, aged between 15 and 29. In other words, within the drug-consuming population, the latter two sub-groups presented the highest risk.