Race/ethnicity, substance abuse, and mental illness among suicide victims in 13 US states: 2004 data from the National Violent Death Reporting System.Inj Prev. 2006 Dec; 12 Suppl 2:ii22-ii27.IP
To calculate the prevalence of substance abuse and mental illness among suicide victims of different racial/ethnic groups and to identify race/ethnicity trends in mental health and substance abuse that may be used to improve suicide prevention.
Data are from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), a state-based data integration system that, for 2004, includes data from 13 US states. The NVDRS integrates medical examiner, toxicology, death certificate, and law enforcement data.
Within participating states, for data year 2004, 6865 suicide incidents in which race/ethnicity are known were identified. This included 5797 (84.4%) non-Hispanic whites, 501 (7.3%) non-Hispanic blacks, 257 (3.7%) Hispanics, and 310 (4.5%) persons from other racial/ethnic groups. At the time of the suicide event, non-Hispanic blacks had lower blood alcohol contents than other groups. Non-Hispanic whites had less cocaine but more antidepressants and opiates. There were no differences in the levels of amphetamines or marijuana by race/ethnicity. Hispanics were less likely to have been diagnosed with a mental illness or to have received treatment, although family reports of depression were comparable to non-Hispanic whites and other racial/ethnic groups. Non-Hispanic whites were more likely to be diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder and non-Hispanic blacks with schizophrenia. Comorbid substance abuse and mental health problems were more likely among non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks, while Hispanics were more likely to have a substance abuse problem without comorbid mental health problems.
The results support earlier research documenting differences in race/ethnicity, substance abuse, and mental health problems as they relate to completed suicide. The data suggest that suicide prevention efforts must address not only substance abuse and mental health problems in general, but the unique personal, family, and social characteristics of different racial/ethnic groups.