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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


ARRIBAS-IBAR, Elisabet et al. Suicidal behaviours in male and female users of illicit drugs recruited in drug treatment facilities. Gac Sanit [online]. 2017, vol.31, n.4, pp.292-298. ISSN 0213-9111.


We assessed prevalence of suicidal ideation and plans among illicit drug users and their association with contextual factors, by gender.


Cross-sectional study. In a sample of 511 illicit drug users recruited during spring 2012 in drug treatment and prevention facilities in Catalonia (Spain), the prevalence of suicidal ideation/plans in the last 12 months was assessed. Poisson regression was used to examine associations between suicidal ideation/plans and various factors (socio-demographic, psychological, illegal drug market activities and marginal income generation activities, which included any reported sex work, stealing, peddling, begging or borrowing on credit from a dealer).


The average age was 37.9 years (standard deviation: 8.62); 76.3% were men. Suicidal ideation/plans were reported by 30.8% of men and 38.8% of women, with no significant differences by age or gender. Recent aggression (male prevalence ratio [PR] = 2.2; female PR = 1.4), psychological treatment (male PR = 1.2; female PR = 1.3) and illegal/marginal income generation activities (male PR = 1.5; female PR = 1.1) were associated with suicidal ideation/plans. Men who trafficked were more likely to have suicidal ideation/plans (PR = 1.3), while prison history was positive for women (PR = 1.8) and negative for men (PR = 0.7).


Prevalence of suicidal ideation/plans was high among illicit drug users recruited from healthcare facilities. Besides psychological variables, participation in illegal market activities and crime ought to be considered in drug users’ suicidal prevention. Suicide risk needs to be evaluated in drug treatment facilities and psychological status and context contemplated.

Keywords : Suicidal ideation and plans; Gender; Illicit drug use; Drug trafficking; Recent aggression; Crime.

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