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Alcohol and Suicide

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Alcohol and Suicide

In recent years, the correlations in the suicide rates with alcohol consumption have been investigated and have certainly proven to have a direct association.1 While the exact role alcohol has is unclear, many explanations have been proposed and a strong association exists.2

The more an individual drinks, the higher the suicide risk.3 While other social factors come into play - job issues, relationship issues along with gender and cultural expectations - suicide rates can fluctuate on regional and situational levels.4

Alcohol dependence can cause a depression relapse in those suffering with depressive disorders. Alcohol abuse can exaggerate and exacerbate depression and increase impulsive behaviors.5 One study shows that between 18% and 66% of all suicide victims have levels of alcohol in their systems at the time of death.2 In teens, this percentage raises to 46%.2 Because alcohol can cause impulsive behavior, it's felt that spontaneous suicides where the victim leaves no note and has no long-standing physical or mental conditions are most likely to occur than planned suicides.2

Alcohol is common with suicide methods that include more violence and pain, such as moving vehicles, firearms and overdosing.2, 5 Alcohol abuse and major depression are the most commonly diagnosed disorders in suicide attempts and a recent study shows that following age, alcohol and drug addictions are the most likely reasons for suicide.5 Studies are showing that middle- to older-aged adults, usually males, with alcohol dependence are at the highest risk for suicide and may sever as a marker for more chronic, treatment refractory alcoholism.6

Because of the suicide risk for any person suffering from major depression paired with alcohol abuse, it's critical that prompt medical attention is sought after.5

Are you in Crisis now? Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7


  1. L. Sher. Commentary. Alcohol consumption and suicide. Division of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University. New York. USA. November 15, 2005.

  2. A. Zeichner, J. Allen, P. Giancola, J. Lating. Alcohol and aggression: effects of personal threat on human aggression and affective arousal. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 18:657-633.

  3. Robert Mann. Suicide Tied to Alcohol Intake. Canadian Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

  4. Achal Misra, MC, Hamish McAllister-Williams, MD. Alcohol and depression.

  5. Mark Jacob, MD. Why alcohol and Depression Don't Mix. Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. January 21, 2008.

  6. Reviewed by Steven Gans, MD. Alcoholism - Risk Factor for Suicide. Older Alcoholics At Even Greater Risk, Study Shows.

This page was last modified on : 10/28/2013

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