Author: James Anderson

Suicidal Behavior: Links Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Acute Use of Alcohol Alcohol Research: Current Reviews

Are Alcohol and Suicide Linked

When struggling with suicidal thoughts and tendencies, it’s common to want to escape the pain you’re feeling inside. This is why many individuals often turn to risky behaviours, including using drugs and alcohol. Raising awareness in these age groups about the severe consequences of substance abuse and chemical dependence requires a clinical approach to young, impressionable minds that are still developing.

Submit your number and receive a free call today from a treatment provider. If someone you love has a problem with alcohol, or you have noticed them acting out of the ordinary, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. Throwing around unfounded accusations could make them feel attacked and escalate the situation. They can help you determine a course of action and make sure you have all the tools necessary to get the help you or your loved one need.

There are several neurobiological and psychological theories proposed to explain the relationship between alcohol use and suicide. Alcohol affects neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers such as GABA and serotonin that help regulate mood. Suicide, suicidal ideation, and suicidal attempts are major concerns for individuals who misuse alcohol, as alcohol use can lead to impaired judgment, decreased inhibitions, and impulsiveness. 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. Providing patients with resources is an opportunity that clinicians should use to empower patients to take initiative in maintaining and protecting their mental health.

Alcoholism has the power to devastate a person who previously had no history of health issues; consequently, when someone who does have underlying health conditions experiments with alcohol as a crutch or coping mechanism, in time, they might become more likely to take their own life. Individuals with suicidal thoughts often turn to alcohol, and alcohol increases suicidal thoughts. The researchers say that as the research was cross-sectional (one snapshot in time, rather than longitudinal), they cannot say whether harmful drinking is what makes mental health worse, or rather if it is a sign of already declining mental health – but they say the causation may go in both directions. Another theory of suicide suggests the severity of depressive symptoms, such as a hopeless sense of not belonging, is directly proportional to the likelihood of a lethal suicide attempt.

Problem drinking linked to increased risk of suicide attempt and self-harm

Mental health clinicians can play a part in dispelling the secrecy and stigma around suicide, and increase social empathy by discussing it as often and openly as other mental health issues are commonly verbalized. The low incidence rate of suicidal behavior in most populations may make it impractical to study drinking immediately prior to suicidal behavior using intensive prospective study designs such as experience sampling where data may be gathered several times per day. Moreover, asking an individual to continue to document their drinking during an unfolding suicidal crisis raises ethical concerns and would presumably require the investigator to intervene whenever possible, altering the course of the phenomena under study. We hypothesize that use of alcohol among individuals intending to make a suicide attempt, for the purpose of facilitating the suicidal act, may represent a distinct group typified by greater suicide planning, intent, lethality, and potentially co-occurring depression.

Are Alcohol and Suicide Linked

Adolescents are exposed to a lot of misinformation and skewed perceptions of drug culture through social media and society in general. It is critical to provide them with accurate information through a lens of empathy and compassion. Whether they suffer from anxiety or other mental illness, some kind of mood or personality disorder, or are trying to cope with a trauma, many people turn to alcohol in an attempt to forget their problems. The chronic use of this substance, however, can mean that someone builds a tolerance, dependence, and eventually an addiction. Public policies should be looking to increase awareness of the link between alcohol and suicide and to assess and treat problematic alcohol use as a way to prevent suicide. The results of our research highlight just how needed these measures are in our society, but prevention requires change at both the individual and systemic level.

Suicidal Behavior: Links Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Acute Use of Alcohol

It is also essential to continue studying how prevention strategies focused on the reduction of risk factors (e.g., co-occurring depression) and the promotion of protective factors (e.g., positive social support) may reduce the likelihood of AUD and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Treatment development efforts would be enhanced by the examination of data regarding mechanisms of action, for example, the role of drinking and AUD in depression and interpersonal stressful life events, both of which are potent risk factors for suicidal behavior. Although alcohol may provide temporary relief from suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide), in reality, it makes the issue exponentially worse.

Studies of implementation of screening in key settings (e.g., AUD treatment programs) and meaningful intervention based on screening results are also needed. Suicide hotlines are designed to assist people contemplating suicide or otherwise in distress by providing emotional support and connecting them with crisis resources. The following resources offer confidential services, so you don’t have to provide any identifying information if you don’t want to. The more we talk about it, the more we can create space for support, healing, and recovery. The pain felt by family members and loved ones of someone who has taken their own life is often harder to deal with than if they died by another means. Often, those who lost someone feel some level of guilt or responsibility.

  1. It is important to note that suicide is not something that gives blame or points fingers, it is powerful and greedy and takes ruthlessly.
  2. Indeed, it would be a coup to prioritize the inclusion of AUD patients with suicidal ideation, insofar as suicidal thoughts and behavior has so often served as exclusion criteria in clinical trials research.
  3. In fact, we found that alcohol use increased the risk of death by suicide by a frightening 94 per cent.
  4. By analyzing the data from 33 longitudinal studies — and 10,253,101 participants — we determined that alcohol use is a substantial risk factor for death by suicide.

There are well-established links between alcohol and cancer, heart disease and violence. Alcohol also undermines mental health, with links to depression and anxiety. However, more investigation is required before making any statements on the link between alcohol and suicide.

The Role of Alcohol and Substances in Suicide

It is important to note that suicide is not something that gives blame or points fingers, it is powerful and greedy and takes ruthlessly. However, it is equally imperative to seek help immediately if you notice changes in mood or signs of suicidal thoughts in yourself or a loved one. Those feelings may be indescribably heavy and suffocating, but finding a professional to work through that darkness might be the beginning of a brand new life. Get professional help from an addiction and mental health counselor from BetterHelp.

Recognizing risk

Missing are data pertinent to understanding the progression or escalation of suicidal risk during drinking bouts. Research is needed on whether alcohol use (and degree of use) and suicidal ideation (and degree of ideation) covary generally. Such event-based analysis of drinking and suicidal thoughts and behavior would inform theory and prevention efforts targeting alcohol-involved acts of suicide. Assessments of the role of AUA in suicide attempts should begin with establishing if AUA occurred and estimating the amount of alcohol consumed. The information learned from a chain analysis can be used to develop a personalized distress safety plan that highlights high-risk periods and warning signs, and to devise strategies for avoiding alcohol.17 Overall, the goal of the plan is to prevent escalation of suicidal risk in the context of AUA. Progress may be accelerated by developing and testing treatments that, based on their characteristics (e.g., simplicity), may be presumed to have the greatest potential for successful implementation.