Cathriona White, the ex-girlfriend of actor Jim Carrey, was found dead at her home in California. She left behind a note addressed to Carrey, allegedly referencing their recent break-up. Also found near her body were pills. Police on the scene are calling her death an alleged suicide by overdose, but only a toxicology report and other tests will determine the actual cause of death. Cathriona White, who was from Ireland, was 28 years old and worked as a make-up artist.
Suicide by Alcohol or Drug Overdose
Statistics reveal that suicide ranks as the eleventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and approximately thirty-three thousand people end their life annually. Suicide affects people of every economic and social strata of society. Alcohol and drug abuse increases the risk of someone having suicidal thoughts and actions. Other factors that increase the risk of suicide are mental disorders such as: Schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Bi-polar Disorder, Depression and others.
Alcohol and drug abuse lowers a person’s self-control and increases impulsive behavior. Drugs and alcohol also cause many physical and psychological changes to the brain. Some changes in the brain caused by alcohol and drug abuse are: depression and impairment of the prefrontal cortex which controls decision-making ability. Because of these factors, alcohol and drug abuse has led to many overdose suicides.
The National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) reports that alcohol played a primary role in one-third of reported suicides in 2007. The blood alcohol content (BAC) of the suicide victims was about sixty-two percent. These deaths were due to alcohol poisoning. Other statistics by the NVDRS indicate that alcohol and illicit, prescription and over-the-counter drugs account for seventy-five percent of suicides by poisoning. Sixty-nine percent of the suicide victims had ingested one type of drug and another twenty-five percent ingested more than one substance. Of these, approximately one-third had combined alcohol with drugs.
Prescription drugs account for the highest rate of suicide by poisoning, followed by over-the-counter drugs and then illicit street drugs. Females lead with the highest amount of combined drug and alcohol suicide overdose, at thirty-four percent. White people, non-Hispanic, lead in drug and/or alcohol suicide overdose. The highest age group of overdose suicides is 40 to 62 years old, followed by: 18 to 39 years old, over 65 years old, to 17 and younger.
Families with suicidal members should keep substances out of the reach of their vulnerable loved ones. Education and intervention skills should be taught to family members to effectively reduce lethal substances in the home. Families should limit access to alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Family members should learn about the dangers of alcohol, and its ability to increase the harmful effects of drugs and other substances. Alcohol also increases the suppression of the respiratory system which, combined with other substances, can lead to death. Common drugs used in suicide overdose are benzodiazepines, anti-depressants and over-the-counter analgesics.
Psychological counseling and social support groups can all play a part in helping at-risk individuals. Family, friends and a faith-based community can offer support to someone at-risk for suicide. Suicidal thoughts occur when a person is struggling with an overwhelming problem that they can’t cope with. They feel lost and hopeless, with no way out of the situation. Using alcohol and drugs makes the problem worse, because it interferes with the ability to make the right decisions to solve problems. It also causes depression and that makes the situation feel even more overwhelming.
There are many reasons that cause a person to have suicidal thoughts. Health problems, anxiety disorders, family problems, loss of a loved one, alcohol and drug abuse, financial problems etc. Whatever the problems may be, there is hope! And there is help available to fight depression, suicidal thoughts and actions and alcohol and drug abuse.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.