Intentional Overdose Deaths Up for 15- to 24-Year-Old Men, Women

This illustration image shows tablets of opioid painkiller Oxycodon delivered on medical prescription taken on September 18, 2019 in Washington,DC. – Millions of Americans sank into addiction after using potent opioid painkillers that the companies churned out and doctors freely prescribed over the past two decades. Well over 400,000 people died of opioid overdoses in that period, while the companies involved raked in billions of dollars in profits. And while the flood of prescription opioids into the black market has now been curtailed, addicts are turning to heroin and highly potent fentanyl to compensate, where the risk of overdose and death is even higher. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Intentional overdose deaths have increased among 15- to 24-year-old men and women in recent years.

HealthDay News — Intentional overdose deaths have increased among 15- to 24-year-old men and women in recent years, according to a letter to the editor published online Feb. 2 in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Beth Han, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2001 to 2019 National Vital Statistics System multiple cause-of-death mortality files to assess national trends in intentional overdose deaths by age, race and ethnicity, and sex compared with firearm deaths by suicide.

The researchers found that the age-adjusted rates of intentional overdose deaths declined from 2012 to 2019 and from 2015 to 2019 among men and women, respectively. Increases in rates were seen among 15- to 24-year-old men from 2015 to 2019; 15- to 24-year-old women from 2014 to 2019; non-Hispanic Black women from 2013 to 2019; and 75- to 84-year-old men and women from 2001 to 2019. During 2001 to 2019, rates were consistently highest among women aged 45 to 64 years, and were 41 percent higher than among men of the same age in 2019. From 2006 to 2019, age-adjusted rates for suicides by firearm increased among men and women, and did not trend downward in any subgroups.

“These findings are consistent with increases in suicidal ideation, plan, and attempt in young people and highlight the urgent need for interventions to prevent suicides, including from intentional overdoses,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and other industries.

Abstract/Full Text