1. Characteristics of suicides among overdose deaths in Norway in 2016-2020
From an overdose-death preventive measure, it is important to identify different groups of riskpopulations. Many different prophylactic programmes focus on drug users in order to avoid overdose deaths. However, none of them focuses on suicides. The aim of this study is therefore to describe suicides among overdose deaths.
Data on cause of death obtained from the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry (NCoDR) were linked with forensic toxicological results from forensic autopsies. Overdoses were included according to the EMCDDA-definition.
In total, 652 overdose deaths were included from 2016 to 2019. In total, 100 deaths (15 %) were classified as suicides, and significantly more often among women than men (26% among women versus 11% among men, p<0.001). The prevalence among women increased from 23% in 2016 to 33% in 2019. The mean age was 49 years (47 years among men and 50 years among women). The mean number of drugs detected was 4, and oxycodone was the drug that was detected most frequently (35%). The most important individual opioids, or other drug groups, in suicide deaths compared to accidental deaths were codeine (OR: 2.298, 95% CI: 1.113-4.742), oxycodone (OR: 3.850, 95% CI: 2.300-6.443), z-hypnotics (OR: 3.840, 95% CI: 2.121-6.950), and antidepressants (OR: 2.077, 95% CI: 1.287-3.352), adjusted for age and sex, whereas illicit drugs were less frequent (OR: 0.327, 95% CI: 0.204-0.527).
Prevention of suicidal overdoses needs attention, and should be targeted in venues like the general practitioner and mental health care.