Cannabis use is associated with a greater likelihood for suicide attempts in adolescents

Friday, 9 November 2018

Article Recommended by Dr. David Hepburn:

Cannabis use and suicide attempts among 86,254 adolescents aged 12-15 years from 21 low- and middle-income countries.



Evidence suggests that cannabis use may be associated with suicidality in adolescence. Nevertheless, very few studies have assessed this association in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In this cross-sectional survey, we investigated the association of cannabis use and suicidal attempts in adolescents from 21 LMICs, adjusting for potential confounders.


Data from the Global school-based Student Health Survey was analyzed in 86,254 adolescents from 21 countries [mean (SD) age = 13.7 (0.9) years; 49.0% girls]. Suicide attempts during past year and cannabis during past month and lifetime were assessed. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted.


The overall prevalence of past 30-day cannabis use was 2.8% and the age-sex adjusted prevalence varied from 0.5% (Laos) to 37.6% (Samoa), while the overall prevalence of lifetime cannabis use was 3.9% (range 0.5%-44.9%). The overall prevalence of suicide attempts during the past year was 10.5%. Following multivariable adjustment to potential confounding variables, past 30-day cannabis use was significantly associated with suicide attempts (OR = 2.03; 95% CI: 1.42-2.91). Lifetime cannabis use was also independently associated with suicide attempts (OR = 2.30; 95% CI: 1.74-3.04).


Our data indicate that cannabis use is associated with a greater likelihood for suicide attempts in adolescents living in LMICs. The causality of this association should be confirmed/refuted in prospective studies to further inform public health policies for suicide prevention in LMICs.

“Although causality cannot be established, there is some indication for concern. The adolescent brain is a minefield and neuromaturation, particularly when concerning areas of the brain responsible for controlling impulsive behavior and decision making (executive thought), is not complete until about age 25.”
- Dr. David Hepburn 

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