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The CDC Says 1 in 4 Suicide Victims Are Legally Drunk

posted 08:25 AM EST, Mon June 22, 2009
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The CDC Says 1 in 4 Suicide Victims Are Legally Drunk © Photo Credit: Liber

About a quarter of people who commit suicide do so while legally drunk (with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher) and about a third of suicide victims have at least some alcohol in their bodies.

Researchers at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) analyzed data from the National Violent Death Reporting System across 17 states for the years of 2005 and 2006 to come up with the alcohol and suicide correlation statistics; evaluating data from almost 20 000 suicides during that 2 year period.

Although alcohol was found in a high percentage of suicide victims across all races and ethnic groups, people of Native American decent were the most likely intoxicated before committing suicide (37.1%) followed by Hispanics (29%).

Alcohol was more likely found in younger male suicide victims; only 18% of female suicide victims were intoxicated before taking their life.

Dr. Alex Crosby, the author of the study report which was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, explained alcohol’s role in suicidal behavior by saying, “It (alcohol) leads to disinhibition, and it can enhance feelings of hopelessness and depression. Alcohol impairs judgment and can lead to much more impulsive behavior."

The data proves empirically what health workers have always known, that alcohol and suicide go tragically hand in hand. Dr Crosby summed up the significance of the research by stating that any suicide prevention efforts need to address alcohol and drug use as a significant catalyst factor.

Dr Philip May, a professor of sociology in Albuquerque, at the University of New Mexico, suspects that alcohol influences about 40% of suicides within New Mexico. He says that for younger victims, suicide is often an impulsive event, and that in impulsive suicides, alcohol often plays a tragic role.

He explains that alcohol increases suicidal follow-through in 2 ways, either by facilitating the suicidal act, or by increasing the likelihood of suicidal thoughts and actions.

Dr. Crosby concurs, explaining that alcohol worsens depression and can increase feelings of hopelessness. It also lowers inhibition and decreases judgment – all of which stir up to a very dangerous mindset for an already depressed or hopeless person.

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