Correlates of attempted suicide among young injection drug users in a multi-site cohort

Jennifer R. Havens, Steffanie A. Strathdee, Crystal M. Fuller, Robin Ikeda, Samuel R. Friedman, Don C. Des Jarlais, Patricia S. Morse, Susan Bailey, Peter Kerndt, Richard S. Garfein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and correlates of attempted suicide among young injection drug users (IDUs) from six study sites in five US cities. Two thousand two hundred and nineteen participants 15-30 years of age underwent interviewer-administered questionnaires relating to self-reported drug use, sociodemographics, suicidal ideation and attempts, and exposure to violence. The 6-month prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempts was 35.8% (n=795) and 7% (n=156), respectively. Compared to those not reporting a recent (past 6 months) suicide attempt, those attempting suicide were more likely to have a lifetime history of mental health facility admission or sexual abuse. Participants receiving drug treatment at the time of the baseline interview (53.2% versus 37.1%, odds ratio [OR]=1.93, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.39, 2.67) were also more likely to report a recent attempt; as were those reporting a history of experiencing violence. These associations persisted after adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, study site, and other significant covariates by multiple logistic regression. These data suggest that increased access to drug treatment, community mental health, and violence prevention programs may decrease suicidal behavior among young injection drug users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 6 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CIDUS group is comprised of the following investigators: Baltimore: Crystal Fuller, Steffanie Strathdee, David Vlahov at Johns Hopkins University; Chicago: Susan Bailey, Steve Diaz, Lawrence Ouellet, Lorna Thorpe at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Los Angeles: Peter Kerndt, Javier Lopez-Zatina, David Norton, Terry Woehlre at Los Angeles Department of Health Services; New Orleans: Edward Morse at Tulane University and Patricia Morse at Louisiana State Medical Center; New York (NDRI): Don Des Jarlais, Sam Friedman, Theresa Perlis at National Research and Development Institute; New York (NYAM): Theresa Diaz, Ezra Susser, David Vlahov at the New York Academy of Medicine. We would also like to acknowledge the following people from CDC: Edgar Monterroso, Project Officer for study development and implementation; and Andrea Swartzendruber and Roberto Valverde for preparing and assuring the quality of the data. Finally, the authors would like to thank the participants of the CIDUS study.


  • Drug treatment
  • Heroin
  • Injection drug use
  • Suicide attempt
  • Suicide ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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