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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Links between alcohol use and suicidal behavior


The latest article from Alcohol Research Current Reviews explores links between alcohol use and suicidal behavior. Research on associations of suicidal behavior, including suicide and suicide attempt, with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and acute use of alcohol (AUA) are discussed, with an emphasis on data from meta-analyses. Based on psychological autopsy investigations, results indicate that AUD is prevalent among individuals who die by suicide. Results also indicate that AUD is a potent risk factor for suicidal behavior. Risk estimates are higher for individuals with AUD in treatment settings, when compared to individuals in the community who have AUD. Also, although rates of suicide and prevalence of AUD remain higher in men, they have increased more among women in recent decades. Based on postmortem blood alcohol concentrations, AUA was commonly present among those who died by suicide. AUA is a potent proximal risk factor for suicidal behavior, and the risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed, consistent with a dose-response relationship. Research indicates that AUA increases risk for suicidal behavior by lowering inhibition and promoting suicidal thoughts.

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