Author: Gary Jackson

The Link Between Alcohol and Suicide

Suicide prevention is primary with respect to alcohol use, but must take into account the alcohol abuse especially in cases where the alcohol use facilitates suicide behavior. In our research, it was found that a higher frequency and quantity of alcohol consumed plays a major role in death by suicide. The more heavily and habitually one drinks, the more vulnerable they are to these risks. Brief motivational enhancement techniques to increase patients’ willingness to pursue treatment and overcome obstacles may also be an effective engagement approach. Motivational interviewing is focused on helping people work through their ambivalence about changing their behavior and explores patients’ concerns and beliefs about change.

A state of intoxication may trigger self-inflicted injuries, not only by increasing impulsivity, but also by promoting depressive thoughts and feelings of hopelessness, while simultaneously removing inhibiting barriers to hurting oneself [177]. Indirect mechanisms, including alcohol consumption as a form of self-medication for depression, or alcohol use as a marker for other high-risk behaviors, may also be relevant. Although we are far from understanding the relationships between alcohol use and suicidal behavior, a number of possible direct mechanisms for the association have been proposed. Assessments of the role of AUA in suicide attempts should begin with establishing if AUA occurred and estimating the amount of alcohol consumed. Young people are particularly susceptible to alcohol-related harm [20] and accordingly, youth suicides seem particularly amenable to alcohol policy changes such as drink-driving countermeasures and increasing the MLDA. Further research is needed to understand the effects of alcohol and opioid use on suicide risk, as well as address notable gaps in the literature on psychosocial and pharmacological interventions to lower risk for suicide among individuals with AUD/OUD.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Alcohol use is highly prevalent worldwide, and suicide is highly prevalent in populations of patients with alcohol use disorders. However, co-morbid psychopathology is neither sufficient nor necessary for this association [14]. Alcohol use and suicide are intimately linked, but they are both complex phenomena, springing from a multitude of factors. Menninger conceptualized addiction itself both as a form of chronic suicide and as a factor involved in focal suicide (deliberate self-harming accidents) [25]. Although alcohol may provide temporary relief from suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide), in reality, it makes the issue exponentially worse.

  • Because patients with substance use disorders are prone to suicidal ideation and attempts, clinicians need to screen such patients for suicidal thoughts and behaviors routinely and continuously throughout treatment.
  • Additionally, buprenorphine has shown promise in reducing suicidal ideation [255, 256].
  • These interventions may include psychotherapy, motivational interviewing, cultural and family engagement, fostering spiritual beliefs, and limiting access to alcohol at the community level.
  • Several case-control studies at the individual level have shown a high prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence among suicide victims [89,90].

It is important to make the space to discuss thoughts and feelings as they relate to suicide so those suffering from its weight might seek the help they need more easily. This is especially important in cases where an individual might be suffering from an addiction to alcohol as well as suicidal thoughts. This strategy provides for participation in activities that exclude alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use.