Prenatal opioid use as a predictor of postpartum suicide attempts among reproductive-age women enrolled in Oregon Medicaid

Jangho Yoon*, Mandana Masoumirad, Linh N. Bui, Patrick Richard, S. Marie Harvey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The rates of suicide and opioid use disorder (OUD) among pregnant and postpartum women continue to increase. This research characterized OUD and suicide attempts among Medicaid-enrolled perinatal women and examined prenatal OUD diagnosis as a marker for postpartum suicide attempts. Methods: Data from Oregon birth certificates, Medicaid eligibility and claims files, and hospital discharge records were linked and analyzed. The sample included Oregon Medicaid women aged 15–44 who became pregnant and gave live births between January 2008 and January 2016 (N = 61,481). Key measures included indicators of suicide attempts (separately for any means and opioid poisoning) and OUD diagnosis, separately assessed during pregnancy and the one-year postpartum period. Probit regression was used to examine the overall relationship between prenatal OUD diagnosis and postpartum suicide attempts. A simultaneous equations model was employed to explore the link between prenatal OUD diagnosis and postpartum suicide attempts, mediated by postpartum OUD diagnosis. Results: Thirty-three prenatal suicide attempts by any means were identified. Postpartum suicide attempts were more frequent with 58 attempts, corresponding to a rate of 94.3 attempts per 100,000. Of these attempts, 79% (46 attempts) involved opioid poisoning. A total of 1,799 unique women (4.6% of the sample) were diagnosed with OUD either during pregnancy or one-year postpartum with 53% receiving the diagnosis postpartum. Postpartum suicide attempts by opioid poisoning increased from 55.5 per 100,000 in 2009 to 105.1 per 100,000 in 2016. The rate of prenatal OUD also almost doubled over the same period. Prenatal OUD diagnosis was associated with a 0.15%-point increase in the probability of suicide attempts by opioid poisoning within the first year postpartum. This increase reflects a three-fold increase compared to the rate for women without a prenatal OUD diagnosis. A prenatal OUD diagnosis was significantly associated with an elevated risk of postpartum suicide attempts by opioid poisoning via a postpartum OUD diagnosis. Conclusions: The risk of suicide attempt by opioid poisoning is elevated for Medicaid-enrolled reproductive-age women during pregnancy and postpartum. Women diagnosed with prenatal OUD may face an increased risk of postpartum suicides attempts involving opioid poisoning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number196
JournalBMC Women's Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Postpartum
  • Pregnancy
  • Substance use
  • Suicide attempts


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