It’s no secret that opioid use weighs heavily on U.S. communities. More than 81,000 people died from opioid overdoses from June 2019 to May 2020, but hidden inside the death tolls of overdoses are the significant number of people who took their own lives as a result of opioid addiction and abuse.

Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. The day has been set aside since 2001 to spread “the message about the tragedy of drug overdose death and that drug overdose death is preventable.” Similarly, suicide, which is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-34, is also preventable. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine the real relationship between suicide and drug use. This is because it’s often challenging to assess the intent of an individual who has overdosed, especially in the absence of a suicide note.

National data released in 2017 indicates that people who misused prescribed opioids were roughly 40-60% more likely to have suicidal thoughts and were twice as likely to make suicidal attempts versus those who didn’t misuse prescribed opioids. Other studies show a link between substance use disorders and other psychiatric disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders, which are already associated with increased suicide risk.

International Overdose Awareness Day seeks to share information about the issues related to overdoses, spark discussion about overdose prevention, prevent and reduce drug-related harm, and let those who use drugs know that they are valued people regardless of any problems they have.

If your child or someone you love is thinking about suicide, get help now. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is a free resource, available 24 hours a day for anyone who is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The Crisis Text Line is a free 24/7 text line where trained crisis counselors support individuals in crisis. Text “Jason” to 741741 to speak with a compassionate, trained Crisis Counselor. Confidential support 24/7, for free.

The Jason Foundation is another available resource. The Jason Foundation is dedicated to the awareness and prevention of youth suicide through educational programs that equip youth, parents, educators, and the community with the tools and resources to identify and assist at-risk youth. Many times, a young person will exhibit clear warnings signs prior to an attempt. By knowing the warning signs, and knowing how to help, you could save a life. Visit The Jason Foundation’s website to learn more about youth suicide, the warning signs, and how you can help make a difference. The Jason Foundation has never charged a school, community, or individual for the use of their programs or resources.