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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Intoxication and Suicide Study

Portland State University
Portland State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The suicide rate in the United States is often in the news. We have written about suicide a number of times in the past. Today we learn of a new study conducted by Portland State University researchers who reviewed close to 58,000 suicide records from 16 of our 50 states. Accordingly Dr. Mark Kaplan, the lead researcher, told FoxNews.com that: "This is the largest study to date in the U.S. that looked at blood alcohol levels at the time of death...most studies in the past have focused on the risk of suicide among people with chronic alcohol problems like alcoholism or alcohol dependence."

While the study indicated that nearly 25% of the study's suicide victims were intoxicated when they died, less than half had a history of alcohol dependence or alcoholism, although 76 percent had a history of mental health problems.

Here are a few more highlights of the study's findings:
  • Committing suicide while intoxicated rates were higher among young men, American Indians/Alaska Natives, veterans and those from rural areas or low education levels.
  • Younger men appear to commit suicide while impulsively reacting to life crises, while older men seem to resort to suicide as a plan to deal with chronic health problems.
  • Suicide rates are almost four times higher for men than women; however, the rates of intoxication among women victims were almost equal to those of men.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
Hopefully this study, which was funded by a grant from the national Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (a branch of the National Institutes of Health), will serve to promote a greater focus on designing prevention programs and identifying those at high risk of what Dr. Kaplan refers to as alcohol-associated suicide.  He states that one hypothesis is that "they were drinking excessively in order to make it possible to die by suicide."

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