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NH Suicide Prevention Day Puts Focus on Medicine Cabinet

September 10, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. - In a nation that increasingly turns to the medicine cabinet for solutions, experts warn that unused medicines can be a source of trouble - and even suicide. Today is New Hampshire Suicide Prevention Day, and New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Tom Andrew says one step everyone can take to prevent suicides is simply to be aware of what is in their medicine cabinet.

Because there's a pill for just about everything these days, Andrew warns, having too many leftovers readily available can be a source of trouble.

"Unused pills often sit there in the medicine cabinet. They provide an avenue not only for recreational abuse, but also for suicide attempts - particularly for those who are troubled enough to go that far to do it."

Andrew says suicide is one of the factors contributing to a 475-percent increase in drug deaths in New Hampshire since 1977. He says Carroll County currently has the state's highest suicide rate, followed by Coos and Belknap counties.

Women are more likely to attempt suicide, Andrew says, but men are more likely to carry out the act - with younger and older New Hampshire men currently most at risk.

"Suicide overall continues to be a 3-to-1 ratio, male to female, but you see higher numbers in youth, particularly our boys and in senior men. The numbers are particularly stark in those age groups."

Keeping a close watch on the medicine cabinet is particularly important in preventing adult suicides in New Hampshire, he says.

"You'll see almost double the rate in adult versus youth suicides when you talk about prescription drug deaths. It makes sense if you think about it: Adults are going to have more access to prescription drugs."

Unused drugs don't have to go to waste, he adds, because many can be donated to drug give-back programs.

The State Suicide Prevention Council holds a press briefing at 9 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building, Concord. The next national drug take-back initiative will be Sept. 29.

More information is available at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH