Suicide, Mental Illness and Substance Use: Current Issues

Ralph May, PsyD

This presentation summarizes the current literature and clinical approach to the complex issues of suicide risk, mental illnesses, and substance use disorders.

There is a tendency in the addiction and mental health fields to separate substance use issues from mental health disorders, and split theperson in recovery into two distinct entities. The risks associated with suicide and "accidental overdose" are not well understood, and the increasing risks to certain populations, such as middle-age males, is only now bringing into focus the overlap in substance use, mood disorders, and suicide risk. Attendees of this presentation will gain a greater appreciation of the complexities of assessment and intervention with these overlapping populations, and become better informed about the reasons that the U.S. suicide rate has increased by over 24 percent since 1999, and over 43 percent in males ages 45-64.