The loss of life through suicide is always a tragedy and many suicides occur by overdose of drugs and alcohol. Death by suicide among famous people is most often caused by the misuse of illicit and prescription drugs. Beloved celebrities like Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were caught up in a tangle of prescription and illicit drugs. Their deaths were directly hastened by their drug addiction. Suicide Prevention Month is all about raising awareness.
Michael Jackson’s death is reported as a cardiac arrest with acute propofol intoxication. He had been taking midazolam, lidocaine, diazepam and lorazepam which were listed in the autopsy. Anna Nicole Smith, the famous Guess model, Playboy playmate and actress was 40 years old when she died from prescription drug poisoning. Her death is attributed to benzodiazepine and chloral hydrate toxicity. Heath Ledger, the Australian actor, was only 28 years old when he died from a toxic drug overdose. The autopsy reports that he had been taking oxycodone, diazepam, temazepam, hydrocodone, alprazolam and doxylamine. Another sad statistic is Amy Winehouse, the famous singer and songwriter, who died at the young age of 25. Her cause of death is listed as asphyxiation due to a prescription drug overdose. She had been taking butalbital, codeine, temazepam, alprazolam, tramadol and hydrocodone. We have to wonder why these people were taking so many drugs and why the doctors were prescribing them.
Whitney Houston was an adored and beloved American singer and actress who died at the age of 48. Her death is attributed to drowning with complications caused by cocaine and heart disease. Whitney Houston was taking cocaine, Flexeril, Xanax, marijuana and Benadryl according to the autopsy report. Howie Epstein was the 47-year-old bass guitarist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He died from an illegal drug overdose caused by heroin and prescription antibiotics. Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, was a singer, actor and cultural icon. He also died from an illegal and prescription drug overdose. He had been taking methaqualone, codeine, barbiturates and cocaine. Most surprising to many is the death of Sigmund Freud, the famous neurologist. He died from a prescription drug overdose in a physician-assisted suicide from morphine. All famous people who were the victims of suicide by alcohol or drug overdose.
Death by suicide is ranked the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. with approximately 41,000 suicides annually. There are different methods that people use to commit suicide, and firearms take the lead at approximately 21,000 people in 2013. Other methods are: suffocation at approximately 10,000 people, and poison at approximately 7,000 people annually. In 2013 there was a death by suicide every 12.8 minutes. Middle-aged and older people aged 45 to 64 are the highest suicide group by age. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults.
In 2013, suicide was four times higher among men at 77% annually. By contrast, suicide among women was approximately 22%. White males accounted for 70% of all deaths by suicide. The States with the highest number of suicides were: Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, Alaska and Utah. The States with the lowest deaths were: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
Suicidal thoughts or behavior can occur at times of stress, sadness, fear and other mental conditions. These thoughts are damaging and dangerous and immediate help should be sought from a doctor or mental health provider. The use of alcohol and drugs increases the danger of suicide for someone who is at risk. Suicide warning signs include: thoughts, writing or comments about death; increased alcohol or drug abuse; intense mood swings; impulsive or reckless behavior and social withdrawal.
Psychological therapy can help a person at risk for suicide. Therapy helps to change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors into healthy ones. It also teaches new coping skills and validation of feelings in a positive way. Talking to a person of risk and allowing them to express their ideas, fears and feelings is important. By keeping the dialogue open and building trust, we can help prevent it.
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.