Too Many Drunken Suicides

Suicides linked to alcohol use among American Indians and Alaska Natives

(RxWiki News) Certain ethnicities may be at higher risk for committing suicide while intoxicated. It’s not clear why these groups have a higher risk, but the information could be used for suicide prevention strategies.

A recent study looked at US suicides in 16 states over seven years. Results of the study showed drinking before suicide was most common among American Indians and Alaska Natives compared to other races and ethnicities.

The authors recommended that suicide prevention strategies take these high-risk groups into account.

"Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255."

Raul Caetano, MD, PhD, Dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health Dallas Regional Campus, led a group of colleagues to investigate the risk of suicide after alcohol intoxication in the US.

For the study, researchers pulled data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) between 2003 and 2009. Researchers assessed 59,384 male and female suicide deaths in 16 states across the US.

Only 76 percent of the deceased were tested for their blood alcohol content at the time of death. Having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 g/dl or greater was considered alcohol intoxication.

Results of the study found alcohol intoxication levels in:

  • 36 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • 28 percent of Hispanics
  • 23 percent of whites
  • 15 percent of blacks
  • 13 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders

The authors said most of the suicides among intoxicated individuals involved males under the age of 30. Most were also unmarried, had a high school education, lived in a metropolitan area and used a firearm to complete the suicide.

The authors concluded that suicide prevention strategies should consider alcohol use.

“Alcohol problems prevention strategies should focus on suicide as a consequence of alcohol use, especially among American Indian/Alaska Native youth and young adults,” the authors wrote.

Alcohol use may be a risk factor in suicide among young males, American Indians and Alaska Natives in particular.

This article was published in February in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provided grant funding for this study. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
February 6, 2013