Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Association of Suicide Attempt with Stimulant Abuse in California Emergency Departments in 2011: A Study of 10 Million ED Visits


Introduction: Our goal in this study was to identify stimulant abuser patients who are at specifically high risk of suicide attempt (SAT), in order to prioritize them in preventive and risk mitigation programs.

Methods: We used the California State Emergency Department Database (SEDD) to obtain discharge information for 2011. The SEDD contains discharge information on all outpatient ED encounters, including uninsured patients and those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. We identified SAT and stimulant abuse by using the relevant International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, codes.

Results: The study included 10,124,598 outpatient ED visits. Stimulant abuse was observed in 0.97% of ED visits. Stimulant abuse was more common among young and middle-aged males and people with low median household income. Moreover, it was more common among Native American (1.8%) and Black (1.8%), followed by non-Hispanic White (1.1%) patients. The prevalence of SAT was 2.0% (N = 2000) for ED visits by patients with a history of stimulant abuse, and 0.3% (N = 28,606) for ED visits without a history of stimulant abuse (odds ratio 7.29, 95% confidence interval, 6.97-7.64). The SATs were directly associated with stimulant abuse, younger age (age groups >10), and non-Hispanic White and Native American race. Association of SAT with stimulant abuse was stronger in female patients.

Conclusion: Stimulant abuse was the only modifiable risk factor for suicide attempt in our study. Reaching out to populations with higher prevalence of stimulant abuse (young and middle-aged individuals who are Native American or Black, with lower household income) to control the stimulant abuse problem, may reduce the risk of SAT. In this regard, people who are at higher risk of SAT due to non-modifiable risk factors (younger age, and Native American or White race) should be prioritized. Moreover, controlling stimulant abuse among women may be specifically effective in SAT prevention.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View