WEDNESDAY, April 19, 2023 (HealthDay News) — From 2009 to 2021, there were increases in intentional, suspected suicidal cannabis exposures reported to U.S. poison centers, according to a research letter published online April 19 in JAMA Network Open.

Janessa M. Graves, Ph.D., from Washington State University in Spokane, and colleagues examined trends in suicidal cannabis exposures reported to U.S. poison centers before and during the COVID-19 pandemic (2009 through 2021).

The researchers identified 18,698 intentional, suspected suicidal cannabis exposures. There was approximately a 17 percent annual increase in exposure counts. Most cases were seen in recent years and occurred among individuals aged 14 to 64 years. More than one substance was involved in nearly all cases (96.5 percent). Females accounted more frequently for exposures in younger and older age groups. Overall, death or other major outcomes (e.g., life-threatening or with major residual disability or disfigurement) occurred in 9.6 percent of exposures, whereas for older adults, 19.4 percent of exposures resulted in death or other major outcomes. For 2021 versus 2019, twice as many cases involved children (aged 5 to 13 years; 3.1 versus 1.3 percent).

“With more U.S. states legalizing adult-use cannabis, increases in cannabis use will likely persist,” the authors write. “It is important to further examine the suspected association between cannabis use and suicidal behaviors and how risks can be prevented or mitigated.”

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