In previous studies, researchers have reported that youth with a lifetime history of prescription opioid misuse (POM) are at an increased risk for suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts. In this study, we investigate whether the association between youth POM and suicide outcomes differs by recency of POM (ie, none, past, or current misuse).
In this report, we use data from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey to examine associations between recency of POM (current POM, past POM, and no POM) and suicide risk behaviors among US high school students.
After controlling for demographics, alcohol, and other drug use, both current POM and past POM were significantly associated with all suicide risk behaviors compared with no POM. Students who reported current POM had the highest adjusted prevalence ratios (aPRs) for suicidal ideation (aPR: 2.30; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.97–2.69), planning (aPR: 2.33; 95% CI 1.99–2.79), attempts (aPR: 3.21; 95% CI 2.56–4.02), and feeling sad or hopeless (aPR: 1.59; 95% CI 1.37–1.84). Students who reported current POM also were significantly more likely than youth who reported past POM to report that they had seriously considered attempting suicide, made a suicide plan, and attempted suicide.
Although POM, particularly current POM, is associated with increases in the risk for suicide-related behaviors and experiences of youth, comprehensive prevention approaches that address the intersections between suicide and POM provide a promising path forward for addressing these public health challenges among youth.