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Poisoning deaths among late-middle aged and older adults: comparison between suicides and deaths of undetermined intent

  • Namkee G. Choi (a1), Diana M. DiNitto (a1), C. Nathan Marti (a1) and Bryan Y. Choi (a2)

Abstract

Background:

Given the rapid increase in prescription and illicit drug poisoning deaths in the 50+ age group, we examined precipitating/risk factors and toxicology results associated with poisoning deaths classified as suicides compared to intent-undetermined death (UnD) among decedents aged 50+.

Methods:

Data were from the 2005–2015 US National Violent Death Reporting System (N = 15,453). χ2 tests and multinomial logistic regression models were used to compare three groups of decedents: suicide decedent who left a suicide note, suicide decedent who did not leave a note, and UnD cases.

Results:

Compared to suicide decedents without a note (37.7% of the sample), those with a note (29.4%) were more likely to have been depressed and had physical health problems and other life stressors, while UnD cases (32.9%) were less likely to have had mental health problems and other life stressors but more likely to have had substance use and health problems. UnD cases were also more likely to be opioid (RRR = 2.65, 95% CI = 2.42–2.90) and cocaine (RRR = 2.59, 95% CI = 2.09–3.21) positive but less likely to be antidepressant positive. Blacks were more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic Whites to be UnDs. Results from separate regression models in the highest UnD states (Maryland and Utah) and in states other than Maryland/Utah were similar.

Conclusions:

Many UnDs may be more correctly classified as unintentional overdose deaths. Along with more accurate determination processes for intent/manner of death, substance use treatment and approaches to curbing opioid and other drug use problems are needed to prevent intentional and unintentional poisoning deaths.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Namkee G. Choi, 1925 San Jacinto Blvd, D3500, Austin, Texas 78712, U.S.A. Phone: 512-232-9590; Fax: 512-471-9600. Email: nchoi@austin.utexas.edu.

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Keywords

Poisoning deaths among late-middle aged and older adults: comparison between suicides and deaths of undetermined intent

  • Namkee G. Choi (a1), Diana M. DiNitto (a1), C. Nathan Marti (a1) and Bryan Y. Choi (a2)

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