Rates, characteristics and circumstances of methamphetamine-related death in Australia: A national 7 year study
The authors analysed 1649 cases of methamphetamine-related death retrieved from the National Coronial Information System (NCIS) and found that methamphetamine-related deaths in Australia doubled between 2009 and 2015. Heart disease and violent suicide were identified as prominent causes of death. In a fifth of cases (22%) death was attributed to natural disease in conjunction with methamphetamine toxicity.
The most frequent natural disease was cardiac and/or cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Lead author Professor Shane Darke said these results are indicative of a major public health issue and the significant increases in mortality rates over the study period indicates a major methamphetamine problem.
The connection between methamphetamine use and cardiac and/or cardiovascular disease mean we could expect to see a significant increase in cases of this kind in the coming years.
Suicide accounted for 300 methamphetamine-related deaths (18%) with specific characteristics around methods and gender. Suicide by violent means (most prominently hanging) was the main method used by both genders.
Other findings of the study include:
- Nearly half of cases occur in rural and regional locations.
- The most common manner of death (43%) is accidental drug toxicity.
- Even modest amounts of methamphetamine may provoke cardiac arrhythmia.
- There were 245 deaths from traumatic accidents, including 156 where the person was driving a car or motorbike.
- Methamphetamine is a major public health problem of increasing significance, of which death represents the most severe end.