Comparing Attitudes Toward Stigmatized Deaths: Suicide and Opioid Overdose Deaths

Athena Kheibari, Julie Cerel, Grant Victor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Death by suicide and opioid overdose has been associated with negative stigmatization. It is important to investigate whether a suicide death and a fatal opioid overdose share similar stigmatized reactions and how attitudes shape the public willingness to intervene in prevention and treatment efforts. Respondents were recruited for an online survey through convenience sampling and were randomly assigned to either respond to questions about suicide or opioid overdose death. Measurements included respondents’ attitudes toward suicide and opioid overdose decedents and their willingness to intervene. Results revealed that respondents were significantly more willing to intervene in a hypothetical case of a person at risk for suicide. There was greater stigmatization of individuals who died by opioid overdose compared to suicide. Considering that there remains little information about the complexities of stigma toward suicide and overdose, learning more about attitudes toward overdose deaths can also help us better understand how to change attitudes about individuals with substance use disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2291-2305
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Attitudes
  • Fatal opioid overdose
  • Public perceptions
  • Stigma
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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