Alcohol Misuse Often Involved in Suicides

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Alcohol misuse precedes one-third of all suicides, according to research published in the Annals of Epidemiology.

Alcohol misuse precedes one-third of all suicides, according to research published in the Annals of Epidemiology.

For their study, Mark S. Kaplan, DrPH, and co-contributors at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), examined data entered into the National Violent Death Reporting System to identify those who consumed alcohol or were intoxicated prior to committing suicide between 2003 and 2011.

In doing so, the investigators discovered a 1.83-fold and 2.40-fold increased risk of alcohol use before suicide among men and women, respectively. Additionally, male decedents were 6.18-fold and female decedents were 10.04-fold more likely to be intoxicated prior to their fatal suicide attempts.

"The key finding is that the data showed alcohol misuse is common among people who are suicidal," Kaplan, a faculty member at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, noted in a statement. "Those who drank, drank heavily in the hour before taking their lives. Fewer than half of those who were alcohol positive at the time of death had a history of alcohol-related problems."

Furthermore, those who committed suicide were 20 times more likely to have drunk heavily within their lifetimes. Excessive drinking was also linked to hanging and shooting as methods of suicide, the statement mentioned.

“Few studies have compared acute use of alcohol in suicide decedents with that in a non-suicide group,” the researchers wrote. “This study provides the first national analysis of acute use of alcohol before suicide compared with an estimate of acute use of alcohol in a living sample.”

Based on their findings, the authors urged policymakers and healthcare professionals to use social media to report the association between suicide and alcohol use, increase access to alcohol treatment facilities, expand restrictions on alcohol access, and provide alcohol education to parents.

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