Research & Resources

Understanding the relationship between alcohol and suicide for young adults

American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) under 40 years old have a higher risk of suicide than other populations. Researchers wondered if alcohol use played a role, and how that role was different from Caucasians under 40 years old. They analyzed almost 80,000 suicides from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) and found differences between these two populations. Among Caucasians, almost 40 percent of the intoxicated victims were younger than 40 years old; among AI/AN, that number was more than 72 percent. Within their age group, AI/AN victims are about twice as likely to have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit compared to Caucasians. Additionally, among both populations, veteran status and a history of alcohol use were positively associated with intoxication, while not using a gun during the suicide attempt and a history of experiencing circumstances that could contribute to suicide meant individuals were less likely to be intoxicated. Researchers concluded that suicides involving alcohol and those not involving alcohol may be categorically different and require different prevention approaches. The article “Suicide, Alcohol Intoxication and Age among Whites and American Indians/Alaskan Natives” was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. It was published in Alcohol Clinical and Experimental Research.
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