We all know that smoking is a deadly habit, but some new information from the New England Journal of Medicine shows that there may be a new risk factor that we never considered before. Apparently, smoking is linked to a higher risk for suicide.
Scientists examined deaths of 100,000 smokers and former smokers that participated in long-term health studies. While over 80 percent of the deaths were linked to smoking related diseases, a small group died from suicide. Initially, researchers dismissed any link between suicide and smoking, but now experts are suggesting that this is something we need to carefully consider.
Dr. Jitender Sareen, Karver Zaborniak, and Margaret Green from the University of Manitoba analyzed the data from the earlier study and found that smoking definitely causes a marked increase in suicide risk. Female smokers were 4.4 times more likely to commit suicide compared to women who never smoked. Men who smoked were 3.2 times more likely to kill themselves than nonsmoking men. These risk factors are greater than many common diseases that we attribute to smoking.
For example, smokers are 2.5 times more likely to die of infections and 2.1 times more likely to die of kidney failure. Suicide is a far greater risk than these two diseases. The researchers suggest that suicide is actually more likely to cause death among smokers than 11 common terminal conditions linked to smoking.
If this information isn’t scary enough, another analysis of 15 more studies found that current smokers are 81 percent more likely to commit suicide. As of right now, we don’t know why smoking seems to increase suicide risk. However, the Canadian research team speculates that nicotine could alter the brain and lead to depression and suicidal behavior over time. Another theory is that people who already have suicidal tendencies are more likely to smoke.
Why do you think smoking increases the risk of suicide? Have you noticed any changes to your mental health after you stopped smoking?