By Christina Morales, Editor-in-Chief
Periscope News Group
August 29, 2018

In a recent publication by Injury Prevention, researchers discovered that self-injury mortality (SIM) – which is death by suicide or a drug overdose – now surpasses the number of patients who die from diabetic complications. This is a shocking realization which illustrates the seriousness of the increased number of people who are battling depression combined with the continuing opioid epidemic.

In 2016, there were 29 deaths caused by suicide or drug overdose per 100,000 Americans, as compared to less than 25 deaths per 100,000 from diabetes. So why are researchers grouping suicide and overdose victims in the same category? According to Ian Rockett, the lead author of the report and a professor emeritus of epidemiology at West Virginia University, it’s because both fatal acts are self-inflicted. Secondly, both sets of victims seem to have many characteristics in common including unemployment and income equality. There is clearly an underlying issue for which the patient first started taking the medication. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if the overdose was deliberate or accidental.

These findings are extremely important to show how these problems are increasing over time. “Broad acceptance of the self-injury concept could spur much needed reforms in clinical care, by focusing on underlying risks common to drug self-intoxication and suicide deaths,” said Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City, to This means that patients who are being treated for depression or mental health issues can be more closely screened for new drug prescriptions and those who are abusing drugs can get the mental health treatment they need to prevent overdose.

Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. Clearly something needs to be done to address the mental health in our country if mental illness is claiming more and younger victims than this chronic disease.

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“U.S. Deaths From Suicide, Drugs Surpass Diabetes”. Accessed August 28, 2018.
“Mortality in the United States from self-injury surpasses diabetes: a prevention imperative”. Injury Prevention. Accessed August 28, 2018.