The Link Between Youth Marijuana Use and Suicidality

Cumulative scientific evidence has demonstrated an association between marijuana use and increased suicide rates, especially among young people. In Colorado alone, where suicide is now the #1 cause of death for youths aged 10-18, 41.4% of those individuals had THC in their toxicology reports in 2021, far more than alcohol.

This study was conducted in Australia and New Zealand and reported in the prestigious journal the Lancet. Researchers found that suicide attempt increased 7-fold in daily marijuana users before the age of 17. Other countries have done the research – the US just doesn’t listen to them! This science has been known for many, many years. “We recorded clear and consistent associations and dose-response relations between the frequency of adolescent cannabis use and all adverse young adult outcomes. After covariate adjustment, compared with individuals who had never used cannabis, those who were daily users before age 17 years had clear reductions in the odds of high-school and degree attainment, substantially increased odds of later cannabis dependence, use of other illicit drugs, and suicide attempt.”

In June 2021, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), released the results from a study of 280,000 young adults in the US between the ages of 18 to 35: “Cannabis use was associated with increased risks of thoughts of suicide, suicide plan, and suicide attempt, regardless of whether someone was also experiencing depression.”

Another study looked at 13,986 registered twins in Australia. They found the identical twin who used cannabis frequently was more likely to report suicidal ideations compare to their identical twin who used cannabis less frequently, even after adjustment for other variants. There the increased likelihood of suicidal ideation in frequent cannabis users cannot be solely attribute to common predisposing factors.

This study evaluated 743 adolescents for psychopathology. They compared adolescents with suicidal ideations to a control population. It showed that any use of cannabis in early adolescent period is a strong independent predictor of attempted suicide in young adulthood.

While most teens who use THC do not become suicidal, it can happen to anyone, like it did to my son, Johnny. We remember these wonderful young people who are gone far too soon: We don’t want anyone to follow their path, so don’t use marijuana or any THC product!

Read the April 25, 2023 Johnny’s Ambassadors Newsletter

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