“We know there is a high rate of cannabis use among this population and wanted to better understand any potential correlation to suicidal behavior.”
For decades, one of the major talking points among anti-cannabis pundits is that patients of psychiatric disorders who consume it have an increased risk of suicidal behavior. But a study released this week finds no evidence to support the claim.
Research conducted by scientists from McMaster University in Canada refuted pre-existing data that shows the herb is linked to an increased chance of suicidal behavior in the general population. The study was published online this week in the journal Biology of Sex Differences.
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“In what we believe to be a first, this study seeks to understand how cannabis use impacts suicide attempts in men and women with psychiatric disorders who are already at a heightened risk of attempting suicide,” said Zainab Samaan, the lead author. “We know there is a high rate of cannabis use among this population and wanted to better understand any potential correlation to suicidal behavior.”
The researchers analyzed data from 909 psychiatric patients: 465 men (112 who had attempted suicide) and 444 women (158 who had attempted suicide). The average age of the patients was 40.
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“While there was no clear link between cannabis and suicide attempts, our findings did show that among participants with psychiatric disorders, having a mood disorder or being a woman correlates with an increased risk of suicide attempt,” said Leen Naji, one of the authors of the report. “Meanwhile, having a job is protective against suicide attempts.”
The Canadian government is expected to legalize cannabis nationally later this summer. “Our study is both timely and relevant, especially in light of the impending legalization of recreational cannabis with an expected increase in access in Canada, and there remains uncertainty about the full effect of cannabis on those living with psychiatric disorders,” she said.