Confronting death from drug self-intoxication (DDSI): prevention through a better definition. Academic Article uri icon


  • Suicide and other self-directed violence deaths are likely grossly underestimated, reflecting inappropriate classification of many drug intoxication deaths as accidents or unintentional and heterogeneous ascertainment and coding practices across states. As the tide of prescription and illicit drug-poisoning deaths is rising, public health and research needs would be better satisfied by considering most of these deaths a result of self-intoxication. Epidemiologists and prevention scientists could design better intervention strategies by focusing on premorbid behavior. We propose incorporating deaths from drug self-intoxication and investigations of all poisoning deaths into the National Violent Death Reporting System, which contains misclassified homicides and undetermined intent deaths, to facilitate efforts to comprehend and reverse the surging rate of drug intoxication fatalities.

publication date

  • December 2014