Suicide deaths and the ‘Opioid Crisis’


Writing in her blog at the National Institute On Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow and co-author Dr. Joshua Gordon of the National Institute of Mental Health offer an insight that “Suicide Deaths are a major component of Opioid Crisis that must be addressed.”

They mention that opioid overdose epidemic is not restricted to people with opioid addiction who accidentally take too much of a pain reliever or unknowingly inject a tainted heroin product.

Hidden in the alarming number of overdose deaths is a significant number of people who decide to take their own life. The authors also mention that due to the current initiatives to reduce opioid prescribing, many patients in pain find it unable to get treatment they need or get stigmatized as “addicts” by the healthcare system. Thus, compounding their difficulties.

There is a rising desperation and despair of people in agony who are denied treatment by misdirected policies of Federal and State drug enforcement agencies and State Medical Boards. 

A recent study states that 40% of primary care clinics in Michigan will no longer allow their doctors to prescribe opioids to new patients.

But medical prescribing cannot possibly be the only cause of opioid crisis. It is time we recognize that America’s opioid and suicide crisis are much larger than just prescribing or street drugs. The factors responsible for addiction and suicide are socio-economic. Forty years of wage stagnation compounded by automation of manual labor jobs, structural unemployment and the hollowing-out of rural communities have made millions of people vulnerable to the distractions of street drugs. The crisis is not of medical exposure, but of despair. The labor force has to be redeveloped without which a change will not occur in either overdose or suicide statistics.