BACKGROUND: Suicide is considered a severe global phenomenon as near to 700,000 people die annually as a result of suicidal behaviours. Suicide is a major public health problem among patients with a substance use disorder.
AIM: To determine the prevalence of suicidal ideation/behaviours and to investigate the factors associated with this problem among a selected sample of patients with a substance use disorder (SUD) in a specialised centre for treatment and rehabilitation for addiction in Dubai.
METHODS: An observational cross-sectional study design was used to collect data from the target population between May and August 2021 (n = 103), using a structured face-to-face interview questionnaire which included Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9).
RESULTS: This study revealed that the positive/acute suicide risk was 44.7% and the most common risk factors for suicide as reported by the participants were the presence of a legal problem, the presence of a significant financial crisis, and the recent death of a family member or close friend (63.7%, 50%, and 41.2% respectively). More than half of the patients currently using methamphetamine and amphetamine (51.9% and 51.1%) had a positive suicide risk, compared to half of the patients who reported using alcohol and opioids (50% each). Finally, a positive association between depression and the risk of suicide was found, with a highly statistically significant difference between the severity of depression and the risk of suicide (χ2 = 22.928, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest a crucial need to adopt standardised evidence-based risk assessment, interventions, and further research that target the epidemiology of suicide and its risk factors.