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Marijuana Legalization and Suicidal Ideation in Oregon Mental Health

18 July 2019


Among people with substance use disorders (SUDs), suicide is the leading cause of death (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2008). Drugs most highly associated with suicidal ideation (SI) and attempts are sedatives, stimulants, tranquilizers, pain relievers, and marijuana, in order of descending contribution (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013). Although marijuana use has traditionally been correlated with suicidal behaviors in general (Serafini et al., 2013) and SI (van Ours, Williams, Fergusson, & Horwood, 2013) in particular, there is evidence (e.g., Anderson, Rees, & Sabia, 2014; Haskuka, Arenliu, & Kelmendi, 2017) to suggest that the expanding marijuana legalization across the United States may have lessened the strength of the association between marijuana use and suicidality. The present study examined the relationship between marijuana use and SI at two community mental health centers, Pacific Psychology & Comprehensive Health (PCH) Clinic (Portland and Hillsboro locations), in the state of Oregon before and after marijuana legalization. There was no significant relationship between the two variables, although there was an overall trend toward increased SI, irrespective of marijuana use. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.


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