Suicide Risk and Substance Use Disorders
Suicide Risk and Substance Use Disorders

September 10th is the international “World Suicide Prevention Day” and this year’s theme was ‘Working together to prevent Suicide’.

It is important that we talk about suicide as it is such an emotional topic and not much is known about it.

At BOSASNet we are particularly concerned about suicide as there is a high correlation between substance use and suicide.

At least 40% of individuals with a substance use disorder are at high risk for suicide.

The following are some of the reasons why those who have a substance use disorders are at high risk for suicide:

Lowered Inhibitions

Suicidal ideations can occur when an individual experiences tragic events in their lives such as the loss of a loved one, having received a diagnosis of a life-threatening disease, financial debts and facing what one did at the height of their addiction etc.

Sometimes individuals can manage to suppress and ignore such thoughts for a while.

One may be reluctant to carry out the suicidal plan due to the commitments they have, their family or loved ones or fear of pain.

Unfortunately, the use of substances can fuel one’s desire to commit suicide by lowering his or her inhibitions.

Under the influence of substances, one is likely to carry out even the most lethal plan to end their lives.

Reasoning is compromised and one tends to engage in risky behaviors.

Uncontrollable Substance Use

Furthermore, when an individual experiences loss of control over their substance use they can develop suicidal ideations.

Addiction to a substance tends to make one feel imprisoned and enslaved and therefore resulting in feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

Addiction can make one feel that they have no future.

This can even be exacerbated by some statements from other people such as, ‘you are a dead man walking’.

Some can start considering suicide as a way out of the addictive lifestyle. Some even attempt to kill themselves by overdosing on substances.


Relapse is common during recovery from substance use disorders, it can increase the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness One can manage to be sober for weeks, months or even years and at some point, experience a relapse.

Experiencing several relapses can result in one feeling a strong sense of guilt and shame.

Relapse can also make one feel discouraged and lose motivation for pursuing recovery which can lead to suicidal ideations.

Unbearable withdrawal symptoms

During recovery from substances an individual can experience painful withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, headaches, dizziness, chest tightness, and palpitations.

Some individuals develop suicidal ideations when withdrawing from a substance.

Substance-related life crises

Sobriety means that one now faces their everyday life with clearness of mind.

One gets to see the negative impact of the substance use disorder in his or her life.

Marital, legal, job loss and many other challenges of life that occurred as a result of substance use can make one feel devastated.

The realization of how much their life was ruined by substance use can make one have suicidal thoughts.

Mental health illness

At other times an individual can have suicidal ideations because of an underlying mental health illness such as depression and psychosis.

The use of substances can worsen one’s mental illness and place them at greater risk for suicide.

One may feel that suicide is an escape route from the painful mental illness.

People who are in recovery from substance abuse face a lot of challenges, and need a lot of support as they rebuild their lives.

If you think that you might have a substance abuse problem, or if you have a family member or friend who does, we encourage you to seek help.

For some it can mean the difference between life and death.

You can find BOSASNet on Facebook or call us at 3959119/72659891 for more information.

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