Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Sabrina Brown, DrPH

Committee Member

Steve Browning, Ph.D., MSPH

Committee Member

Daniela Moga



With high rates of suicides worldwide more research on suicide is necessary for improved prevention strategies. This study examines the trends of positive drug tests at the time of suicide in Kentucky with respect to region, time, and intrapersonal violence.


Data from the Kentucky Violent Death Reporting System was used to look at all suicides in Kentucky from 2005 to 2012 amongst individuals 10 or older (n= 4691). Trends of opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, benzodiazepine, and barbiturates were examined. The relationship of a positive drug test and time and intrapersonal violence were evaluated with an ANOVA test and intrapersonal violence was evaluated further with a linear regression model. The effect of location change was evaluated with logistic regression models.


The study showed that the use of different drugs impacted the trends differently. When controlling for potential confounders, changing the location changed the odds of a positive drug test for marijuana, cocaine, and benzodiazepines with a p value


Understanding the trends in drug use at the time of suicide may help improve suicide prevention in Kentucky, and possibly nationwide. Local suicide prevention programs may consider targeting the drugs that have significantly higher odds of being present at the time of suicide: benzodiazepines in the Appalachian region and Marijuana and cocaine in the non-Appalachian region. Drug addiction treatments may also want to consider the changes of intrapersonal violence level for certain drugs.

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