Higher Risk of Suicide among Smokers

Smoking may cause several forms of psychosis, and may increase the risk of suicide.

Smoking is a deadly habit. It leads to numerous adverse health issues, several forms of cancers, and even death. Smoking affects virtually every part of the human body – even the brain and all its functions. It is well-known that smoking adversely affects the human nervous system, our emotional state, and even our mood. According to the US National Library of Medicine, smoking affects biochemical and physiological functions.

Evidence Which Supports Tobacco’s Relationship with Psychosis

Some of the neuroendocrine effects come in the release of cortisol, beta-endorphin, arginine vasopressin, and adrenocorticotropic hormone. These neurochemicals are considered to be psychoactive, and can modulate behavior. These issues are the basis of a new study which demonstrates that smoking may cause psychosis, according to The Lancet journal of psychiatry. This reasoning supports the mounting evidence which suggests that smoking actually increases the risk of suicide.

Data and Findings

First off, the researchers at Washington University School of Medicine performed a study which suggested that suicide rates tended to be significantly lower in states where higher cigarette taxes and tougher laws on smoking in public places were implemented. The study also found that suicide rates were significantly higher in states where there were lower cigarette taxes and more relaxed laws in regards to public smoking. In fact, as cigarette taxes rose and laws became tougher, suicide rates dropped accordingly.

“Our analysis showed that each dollar increase in cigarette taxes was associated with a 10 percent decrease in suicide risk,” said Richard A. Grucza, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry. This startling discovery remained a constant throughout the entire nation – in every state.

If you’re not a smoker, or not likely ever to become a smoker, then your suicide risk shouldn’t be influenced by tobacco policies, so the fact that we saw this influence among people who likely were smokers provides additional support for our idea that smoking itself is linked to suicide, rather than some other factor related to policy.

This link is very difficult to refute in the minds of many authorities. The fact that this relationship holds true throughout every state makes this link increasingly difficult to ignore. It has been well-documented in the past that there is a strong relationship between smoking and mental disorders, however, it was previously assumed that those with mental disorders were more attracted to smoking. This evidence demonstrates that smoking actually creates the risk for psychiatric disorders, or increases the risk of worsening psychiatric disorders, thus, increasing the risk of suicide.


It is imperative that reports such as these make their way to those that currently smoke. Especially to those who demonstrate signs of moderate or severe depression, erratic or unexplainable behaviors, or other forms of behaviors which may be a precursor or onset of psychosis. Smoking destroys nearly every organ in the human body. The brain is no exception. Smoking creates new neurotransmitters to accommodate nicotine, which by all accounts refers to a complete rewiring of the brain. Since smoking can physically change the structure of your brain, it must be acknowledged that smoking can also control or manipulate behavior. We are asking that everyone come together to help detour those at risk of suicide by educating them and supporting them in their efforts to quit. Supporting this cause may save a life, maybe someone’s very close to you.

Published: August 3, 2015 Updated: February 14, 2019



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