Alcohol abuse is the most common type of substance abuse in the world.Every year, 8.5% of the adult population in the USA report an alcohol use disorder. In addition, suicide is a public health issue that simply cannot be denied. An investigation of the relationship is imperative in order to determine whether or not one exists. Finding the right questions to ask is as difficult as pinpointing an answer.
Does alcohol induce suicide? Can it, in some cases, prevent suicide? Do the actions of the person who may be fueled by alcohol cause a suicidal response or is alcohol one of the methods of suicide? It’s been argued that Edgar Allan Poe actually drank himself to death, an illustration of the suicide by alcohol methodology. Is the driving under the influence and subsequent accident that it causes?
Is it possible that some people are drinking and using alcohol as a drug to help them to engage in the act of suicide? Alcohol is consistently implicated as a drug that is used to help to exacerbate behavior leading to suicide, but how responsible is it?
Disorders increasing the risk of suicide often co-occur with alcohol abuse
Many different disorders, including stress and anxiety disorders, mood issues, psychosis and others increase the risk of suicide. These same disorders also incrase the risk of alcoholism and alcoholic behavior.
There are multiple ways that we see suicidal behavior manifest itself. You’ll see a withdrawal from social settings, breakdown of friendships and relationships, and loss of close relationships. Those same behaviors exist in alcohol dependence.
Alcohol-induced disorders can be comprised of delusions, memory problems, sleep disorders, dementia, but may also be comprised of things like mild memory problems, problems in relationships and even sexual dysfunction.
Alcohol may give a person with suicidal thoughts courage to act
Both alcohol dependence and anxiety or depression disorders can compel suicidal behavior. When a client is depressed and has an anxiety disorder, that in and of itself can compel thoughts of suicide and the desire to cease living. The addition of liquor can fuel that desire and give what is often called dutch courage that allows the person to take that final and often fatal step.
The suicidal person may have myriad needs so far as care. Addressing the needs of the suicidal person means that without fail we must take into account the drinking habits of those who are suicidal and who have at some point attempted suicide.
1. Grant BF, Dawson DA, Stinson FS, Chou SP, Dufour MC, Pickering RP. The 12-month prevalence and trends in DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: United States, 1991−1992 and 2001−2002. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2004;74:223–234.[PubMed]
2. Hiroeh U, Appleby L, Mortensen PB, Dunn G. Death by homicide, suicide, and other unnatural causes in people with mental illness: a population-based study. Lancet. 2001;358:2110–2112. [PubMed]