Now usually I try to avoid heavy topics but as someone who constantly struggles with mental health issues I think it’s important that we have a look at how weed can affect the various aspects of mental health. Suicidal thoughts/ideation are more common than we might think. Every year in the UK thousands of people take their own lives, but even more, suffer from suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation. Cannabis is often used for mental health issues including depression, anxiety, bipolar, personality disorders, and all sorts of other things. Does this mean that it’s a good idea for anyone who deals with suicidal ideation on a regular basis?
This is a lot more difficult than our average conversation about weed and mental health. For those who don’t have experience with suicidal thoughts may think that since weed is good for depression it must be good for reducing suicidal ideation. Unfortunately, it is far more complicated than that. Everyone experiences ideation differently and for some it can be a combination of intense numbness, depression, and a voice in your head telling you that you can’t keep going. We need to be extremely careful when approaching this subject so I will be covering both schools of thought. I cannot stress enough that if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts you must go to a doctor as well as potentially using cannabis to reduce the strain.
Positive Links Between Cannabis and Reducing Suicidal Thoughts
The ways in which cannabis can help reduce the likelihood of suicide are primarily based in the treatment of other mental health issues. Of course, suicidal thoughts often stem from other issues such as PTSD or extreme depression. We already know that some strains of weed can reduce both or these issues and make coping a good deal easier. Depression can be a horrific downward spiral. For example if you have PTSD, depression or a similar severe mental health issue it can make it extremely difficult to function in society. Maintaining a job, friendships, relationships, a healthy diet and other aspects of life can be extremely difficult. As these falls apart the ability to deal with the other issues will also fall apart.
So if smoking certain medicinal strains of weed helps you cope with the aspects of life that might cause things to get worse then it could be beneficial in stopping your mental health from reaching the stage of suicidal thoughts.
Mental health issues aren’t the only health problems that can lead to suicidal thoughts. Those who have debilitating physical issues such as chronic pain may also fall victim to severe depression. Medicinal cannabis can reduce pain, muscle spasms, seizures, migraines, and other physical issues. Helping you to be mobile and active should help with mental health issues and reduce the likelihood of severe depression.
So all in all we know that cannabis can genuinely help to reduce a lot of issues that can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
Potential Links Between Cannabis and Suicide
Unfortunately, there are a few studies that have shown links between cannabis use and suicide in young adults. The findings of one such study tell us that over the past years regular cannabis use has been a direct link to increased suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts in young adults, for some reason, especially in women. This study took place in the US over the last decade when an increase in cannabis use has run a parallel with increased suicide.
One thing that I will say though is that in many of these studies they don’t seem to be able to literally prove a solid connection as they admit themselves the data is difficult to fully understand.
The final conclusion made by the study was that between 2009 and 2019 there has been a 40% – 60% increase in ideation, planning and attempts that have been ascribed to increased cannabis use. This study and others like it all make the connection, but say there is not much sustainable evidence to prove that the connection is purely between cannabis and suicide.
Especially in the US there are other overlapping factors that may increase suicide in young adults who also happen to use cannabis. It is dangerous to assume that just because two pieces of information exist near each other that they must be connected.
Each study states that further research needs to be done on the topic and honestly I’m sceptical. Drug use, especially in areas where it is illegal, can definitely be generally subscribed to certain groups. Whether they come from a particular type of background that may have resulted in PTSD or are smoking to self-medicate for a pre-existing condition that could lead to suicidal ideation.
We can’t claim that the planet has become easier to live in over the past decade, especially for a lot of these groups. Not only is it becoming harder for mentally ill and disabled workers to make a decent income while maintaining a work-life balance, but the world itself is just falling apart and regressing to a terrifying stage of a past that supports very few members of society.
Though I believe that these studies are important and that I may have a bias, I do believe that they should be taken with a pinch of salt and an analytic eye.
There is really one thing that I can say if you are experiencing suicidal ideation, planning, or have even attempted. Get medical help. I understand that unfortunately you’ll just be put on a 6-month waiting list and that you may not get the help you need easily. It is important that you are firm with your doctors, do not have a stiff upper lip, and do not worry about being “over dramatic”.
While waiting for help and treatment we do know that cannabis can help with certain aspects of mental health that might be making things more difficult for you. Always do your research, seek professional help, and remember that you’ve already lived through a massive amount of horrific global events in the last few years. You can hold on a little longer.
Written by Tasha Porritt
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