Suicidality and Treatment Experience Among Young People Who Inject Drugs
Background. We examined correlates of past year suicidal thoughts and behavior (STB) and described past year treatment experiences among young people who inject drugs (PWID). Methods. Participants were 570 adults (18-25 years) who injected primarily heroin. Interviews were conducted at field stations operated by Community Outreach Intervention Projects in Chicago, Illinois (USA). Interviewers administered the Psychiatric Research Instrument for Substance and Mental Disorders. Substance use and mental disorders were based on DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. Past year STB was based on multiple questions. Results. Sixteen percent of men and 25% of women reported STB in the past year. In multivariable analysis, STB was associated with non-heterosexual orientation, foster care, and being raised by two parents. Primary major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders, and borderline personality disorder had independent effects on suicidality. Among those reporting past year STB (n=111), 83% ever received mental health treatment, while 44% did so in the past year. While 24% of respondents indicated that at least one treatment matched their needs very well, 30% reported treatment that did not match their needs at all. The most common reason for ending treatment was program completion (about 50%) while getting better was endorsed by about 25%. Nearly half reported ending treatment due to a bad experience, logistical issues, or expense. Conclusions. Young PWID are at high risk for suicidal behavior and their mental health treatment experiences often do not meet their needs. There is a pressing need for more integrated substance use and mental health treatment.