The DAWN [Drug Abuse Warning Network] Report examined Trends in Emergency Department Visits, which indicate a 49-percent increase in emergency rooms visits for drug related suicide attempts by women aged 50 and older from 2005 to 2009. DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits.In addition, the report, compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), shows that ER visits involving certain medications, such as those for treating anxiety and insomnia increased significantly (56%), as did those for suicide attempts involving pain relievers (up more than 30 percent). The rise in misuse of two narcotic pain relievers, hydrocodone and oxycodone has been particularly steep, showing a 67 percent rise in hydrocodone use and, and a 210 percent increase cases involving oxycodone.
Even as the findings indicate a growing need to address women in crisis, there is a compelling need to assess the role that emergency rooms play in delivering adequate care to women seeking care.
A consistent and informed response is critical; there are six common signs that a woman may be at increased risk for suicide:
- Expressing feeling hopeless or having no purpose
- Acting unusually anxious, agitated or recklessly
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Having major mood swings
- Talking about wanting to die
The Report on Drug-Related Suicide among Women was developed as part of SAMHSA’s strategic initiative directed at policy makers and service providers to inform then of the nature and scope of behavioral health issues.