Worth Repeating: Suicide Rates Fall In Medical Marijuana States


Global Ganja Report

Worth Repeating
By Ron Marczyk, R.N.
Health Education Teacher (Retired)

“We conclude that the legalization of medical marijuana leads to an improvement in the psychological well being of young adult males, an improvement that is reflected in fewer suicides.”
This story didn’t make it past the network news filters, was ignored by the mainstream media, and numerous mental health/suicide prevention organizations would not even comment about it!
Then, 17 days later:
Why would a “good news” marijuana story, like where suicides markedly declined, be ignored by the media?

Now some truth and daylight as reported by three American researchers who had their findings published by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany.

The Daily Chronic

Why wouldn’t it be published in the U.S.?  Is it safe for a researcher and his or her future academic funding to challenge government dogma and publish contrary evidence domestically?
Apparently it may not be, because it contradicts the misinformation and the socially engineered negative propaganda campaign against marijuana by self-serving interests since 1937.
If the results of this study reported the opposite results, it would be the lead headline nationwide, I assure you. The emperor truly has no clothes!
Implications of the research:
• Marijuana improves the “psychological well being” of young adult males and saves lives! 
• Marijuana’s major actions are that of an anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and anti-anger medication.
• Marijuana reduces alcohol consumption in this at risk population.

Free Press Release

​Can it to be used prevent suicide in a high-risk population? And what exactly is this state of “improved psychological well being?”
It has been described and supported with evidence as the “cannabinoid homeostatic healing perspective” (CHHP) and the “psychology of optimal experience.”
Marijuana’s therapeutic effect requires immediate further research, as the suicide study emphasizes.

Do you really have to be sick to get benefit from cannabis? Isn’t relaxation itself medicinal?
So what happened?
From: “High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide” / Jan 2012 (Anderson, Rees, Sabia)
Abstract:  Using state-level data (from Centers for Disease Control) for the period 1990 through 2007, we estimate the effect of legalizing medical marijuana on suicide rates.
“There have been no previous attempts to estimate the effect of medical marijuana laws on completed suicides, the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.” (National Institute of Mental Health 2010)
Data from states where medical marijuana is legal, looking back three years prior to legalization, the year of legalization (year zero) and three years’ post-legalization was compared against data on suicide rates in prohibition states.
“Our results suggest that the passage of a medical marijuana law is associated with an almost 5 percent reduction in the total suicide rate.

“By age group:

“An 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males; and a 9 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30- through 39-year-old males.”

“We conclude that the legalization of medical marijuana leads to an improvement in the psychological well being of young adult males, an improvement that is reflected in fewer suicides.”

Background and Hypothesis:
“In an often-cited article by Hamermesh and Soss (1974), who were the first economists to model suicidal behavior, and according to their “economic theory of suicide,” negative shocks to happiness can reduce expected lifetime utility to the point where an individual will decide to take his or her own life,” overwhelming  the individual’s ability to maintain homeostasis.
“Even if a shock is perceived to be temporary, an individual with ‘time inconsistent preferences’ may commit suicide at the prospect of having to cope with an acutely painful state in the present.” 
Conclusions of the research:
“Constant with the hypothesis that marijuana can be an effective treatment for depression and other mood disorders, there appears to be a decrease in the suicide rate of 15-19 year-old males in the treatment states as compared to the prohibition states for approximately two years after legalization.”
“A similar decrease can be seen for males 20-59 and there is a moderate decrease in males 60 years or older three
years after legalization.”
In addition, this downward trend in suicides in states post-legalization was especially pronounced in males as was the risk of suicide by decreasing alcohol consumption.
“The total suicide rate falls smoothly during the pre-legalization period in both MML (medical marijuana law) and non-MML states.
“However, beginning in year zero, the trends diverge: the suicide rate in MML states continues to fall, while the suicide rate in states that never legalized medical marijuana begins to climb gradually.” 
The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young adult males is consistent with the argument that marijuana can be used to cope with such shocks.
However, estimates provide an alternative explanation. These authors found that the passage of MMLs (medical marijuana laws) led to sharp decreases in alcohol-related traffic fatalities, self-reported alcohol use, and per capita beer sales.
The strong association between alcohol consumption and suicide-related outcomes found by previous researchers raises the possibility that medical marijuana laws reduce the risk of suicide by decreasing alcohol consumption.

​And in a very sad, related story that we all need to be mindful of: “More U.S. Soldiers Killed Themselves than Died in Combat in 2010” 
“For the second year in a row, more American soldiers — both enlisted men and women and veterans — committed suicide than were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Excluding accidents and illness, 462 soldiers died in combat, while 468 committed suicide. A difference of six isn’t vast by any means, but the symbolism is significant and troubling. In 2009, there were 381 suicides by military personnel, a number that also exceeded the number of combat deaths.”

Smoke That Herb

​So, do you really have to be sick to benefit from cannabis? Isn’t relaxation itself medicinal?
The future is now! My last several posts have focused on evidence gathered over the last 10 years that shows marijuana can treat anxiety, depression, PTSD, and simultaneously increases subjective well being and positive states of cognitive, emotional and existential wellness.
This study provides the numbers and stats to validate these claims. 
It provides evidence supporting marijuana’s positive psychology/happiness effects and the very topic of my last post: marijuana and the psychology of optimal experience.
When you ask people why they smoke marijuana, the most common answer is that it helps them relax and makes them feel better. That makes it medicine, and the word medical is redundant when talking about cannabis. 
Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.” 
Medical marijuana patients are able to reduce their use of painkillers, tranquilizers, and other psychiatric medicines!
Isn’t it ironic that all antidepressants advertised on T.V. have increased suicide behavior as one of the many maj
or side effects? Perhaps another variable at work here is that when people switch to safer marijuana to treat depression the prescription side effect of suicide goes away?

Marijuana restores homeostasis to the mind, similar to a period of mindfulness meditation or yoga.
Marijuana reduces hostility, depression and anxiety, and blocks traumatic memories.
Marijuana increases introspection, metacognition, calmness and laughter.  
Marijuana is unique among illegal drugs in its political symbolism, its safety, and its wide use. 

Smoking marijuana will never kill you; it is the antidote to modern life, it is medicine by popular vote!
In 2007, the suicide rate was 11.26 per every 100,000 people.
The population of the U.S. as of March 2, 2012 was 313,113,996 
Approximately 35,250 suicide deaths occurred nationwide in 2007; a 5 percent decrease in suicide rate due to marijuana legalization would theoretically save almost 1,800 lives per year.
The U.S. has been shoving our failed drug policy down the throats of countries around the world and and of citizens at home for decades.
All of those in favor of a serious and honest debate say “Aye!”

Photo: Ron Marczyk
Mr. Worth Repeating: former NYPD cop, former high school health teacher, the unstoppable Ron Marczyk, R.N., Toke of the Town columnist

​Editor’s note: Ron Marczyk is a retired high school health education teacher who taught Wellness and Disease Prevention, Drug and Sex Ed, and AIDS education to teens aged 13-17. He also taught a high school International Baccalaureate psychology course. He taught in a New York City public school as a Drug Prevention Specialist. He is a Registered Nurse with six years of ER/Critical Care experience in NYC hospitals, earned an M.S. in cardiac rehabilitation and exercise physiology, and worked as a New York City police officer for two years. Currently he is focused on how evolutionary psychology explains human behavior.