The link between cannabis and suicide is a hot topic among health experts these days. While some argue that there is no link and that cannabis does not directly cause suicide, others point out that the drug is linked to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
There has been a lot of press lately about whether people are developing a ‘suicide gene’ and whether …People who use marijuana are more likely to have suicidal thoughts. This is the latest anti-marijuana propaganda from several studies released in the last two months.
This is enough to scare parents, who fear their children will become addicted to the new weed and then sink into a very dark place. However, health experts say the link between cannabis use and increased suicidality is not so clear.
Two recent studies show a link between marijuana use and suicide. The first comes from Stanford University, where researchers found an increase in suicides where cannabis was legal. The study highlights the power of legal marijuana products.
The following study, conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), found that people who use cannabis are more likely to have suicidal thoughts. The results show that marijuana users are at higher risk of developing emotional disorders and attempted self-harm.
So just be careful, okay? Well, uh…
The link between cannabis and suicide is not new. Scientists have identified a link between marijuana smoking and suicidal behavior for years.
But it’s not like a normal, happy person would suddenly become depressed by using this plant. Research on this topic shows that people with pre-existing mental illnesses are more likely to resist these negative effects than healthy people.
While cannabis can help people with anxiety, it can worsen the symptoms of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is not yet clear how or why.
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA and lead author of the study, did not blame cannabis for the increase in suicidality. Dr. Volkov says he thinks more research on this topic is essential.
By better understanding the relationship between cannabis use, depression and suicidality, clinicians will be better able to refer and treat patients. / ISTOCK PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES PLUS
While we cannot say that cannabis use is responsible for the increase in suicidality we observed in this study, these links merit further investigation, especially given the enormous burden of suicide among young adults, she said in a statement. By better understanding the relationship between cannabis use, depression and suicidality, clinicians will be better able to refer and treat patients.
While humanity needs serious research to learn more about the impact of cannabis on the mentally ill, the currently available data does not argue against marijuana legalization in the United States. In 17 states, marijuana is legalized for adults 21 and older. There may even be a proposal this year to legalize it at the federal level.
Most people who use cannabis are not suicidal, and most people who have attempted suicide may not have used cannabis, so cannabis is neither a necessary nor a sufficient cause of suicide or emotional disorders, Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, told Healthline.
Still, the United States could use some of the additional research on marijuana that Dr. Volkow mentions in his study. However, to make these options more accessible, the federal government must change the classification of the cannabis plant from Schedule I – moving it to Schedule II.
This is something that President Joe Biden said during his campaign that he would change. To date, however, no action has been taken to put an end to this matter.
Dr. D’Souza agrees that additional scientific evidence on the alleged link between cannabis use and suicide would be of great value. It is clear that further work is needed to clarify the complex relationship between cannabis use, mood disorders and suicide.