Deaths of Despair?


Anchor lead: How many deaths due to opioid use disorder are suicides? Elizabeth Tracey reports

During the one year period from May 2019 to May 2020, 81,000 people died of drug overdoses, CDC data reveal. That number is almost certainly an underestimate, and is almost twice as high as the previous year’s data. Eric Strain, a substance use disorder expert at Johns Hopkins, says this high rate most likely includes quite a few suicides, or deaths of despair.

Strain: I think that there could be people who are demoralized, with all that’s going on socially. The isolation, depression, unemployment, economic uncertainty, housing uncertainty, there’s a lot of factors going on right now. Just like the general population is stressed I think this population is stressed as well. But this is a population that turns to using opioids at times when they’re stressed.  :25

Strain says these dire numbers call for increased vigilance on everyone’s part, as well as removal of barriers to treatment. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.