The 5 things we wish teachers knew about substance use and suicide.

PowerPoint Slides (PDF)

Further Reading


Suicide Prevention Education Alliance – Adolescent Depression and Substance Abuse

Psychiatric Times – Clinical Implications of Substance Use and Suicidality among Youths
A history of substance use is a strong and independent risk factor for adolescent suicide ideation, and plans, and attempts. (Membership is required to access this article. Membership is free.)

SAMHSA– Emergency Department Visits for Drug-related Suicide Attempts by Adolescents: 2008

Teen Suicide – Teen Drug Abuse
One of the risk factors associated with teen suicide is drug abuse.  

National Institute on Drug Abuse – For Teens

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse – Student Alcohol and Drug Use
Cross Canada Report on Student Alcohol and Drug Use. Research indicates that youth are not only more likely than adults to engage in risky substance use, but also to experience greater harm from that use. This behavior has multiple negative impacts.


Dhawan, A., Balhara, Y.P.S. & Natasha, M.P. (2007). Adolescent substance abuse and suicide. Journal of Indian Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health 3 (2): 34-42.
Adolescent substance abuse is associated with increased incidents of various psychiatric disorders. Adolescent suicide and substance abuse have a number of risk factors in common.

Effinger, J.M. & Stewart, D.G. (2012). Classification of co-occurring depression and substance abuse symptoms predicts suicide attempts in adolescents. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 42 (4): 353-358.
An adolescent with co-occurring depression and substance abuse disorders, regardless of severity, has an enhanced likelihood of suicidal behaviour.

Hallfors, D.D., Waller, M.W., Ford, C.A., Halpern, C.T., Brodish, P.H. & Iritani, B. (2004). Adolescent depression and suicide risk: Association with sex and drug behavior. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 27 (3): 224-230.
Teens engaging in risk behaviours are at increased odds for depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Although causal direction has not been established, involvement in any sex or drug use is cause for concern. Both boys and girls should be screened if engaging in any marijuana or illegal drug use.

Kokkevi, A., Richardson, C., Olszewski, D., Matias, J., Monshouwer, K. & Bjarnason, T. (2012). Multiple substance use and self-reported suicide attempts by adolescents in 16 European countries. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 21:443-450.
The strength of the association increases in parallel with the increasing number of substances used.  The use of tranquillizers and sedatives without prescription had the strongest association with self-reported suicide attempts, followed by illegal drugs (other than cannabis) and tobacco.

Litwiller, B.J. & Brausch, A.M. (2013). Cyber bullying and physical bullying in adolescent suicide: The role of violent behavior and substance use. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 42 (5): 675-684.
Substance use, violent behaviour, and unsafe sexual behavior all associated with suicidal behaviour. The role of violence and substance use as mediating behaviours offers an explanation of how risk behaviors can increase an adolescent’s likelihood of suicidal behaviour.

Ortin, A., Lake, A.M., Kleinman, M. & Gould, M.S. (2012). Sensation seeking as risk factor for suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in adolescence. Journal of Affective Disorders. 143 (1-3): 214-222.
High sensation seeking in adolescence is associated with substance use. Screening for sensation seeking may contribute to the reduction of adolescent suicide risk.