Suicide is tragic no matter what the circumstances. When compared to the general population, however, reports indicate the heartbreaking act is a staggering 120 times more prevalent among adult alcoholics. As if that weren’t enough, alcohol abusers also have higher rates of attempted suicides.
So, how are alcohol and the ultimate act of self-harm intertwined?
Drinking and Dying
Each year, the United States sees roughly 7,500 suicide deaths. Of those, statistics show a whopping 25 percent involve alcohol.
Because alcohol is a depressant, it can increase already existing depression and heighten a person’s tendency to isolate. Drinking also increases impulsive behaviors while decreasing inhibition, which makes for a perfect storm of sorts. That’s why many suicide attempts occur during or shortly after binge drinking sessions.
A recent study published in the journal Addiction linked alcohol-related suicides to larger numbers of bars and liquor stores in their community. Researchers analyzed data from the National Violent Death Reporting System from 2003 to 2011, which compiled 51,347 cases of alcohol-related suicides from 14 states.
Scientists concluded that:
- The odds were greater for a suicide to involve alcohol in counties where there was increased alcohol availability in the form of bars, restaurants and liquor stores.
- Those who successfully committed suicide also had a higher blood alcohol content than those who survived suicide attempts.
- When compared other racial or ethnic groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives who committed suicide were far more likely to have alcohol in their systems – alcohol that was purchased from nearby liquor stores.
In other cases, the numbers revealed that drinking alcohol often just played a role in suicides, as opposed to being the sole culprit. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that:
- 31 percent of suicides between 2000 and 2009 involved a combination of alcohol and prescription medication
- 2 percent of these multiple-substance suicides also included recreational drugs
- Only 1 percent of these suicides only involved alcohol
Avoiding a Tragic End
If you’re seeking treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction, while concurrently suffering from suicidal thoughts, there are special rehab centers that specialize in this very issue. Trained staff members are on hand 24 hours a day. Medical and psychiatric staff will work with you to create a treatment plan that will lessen symptoms of stress and anxiety while you detox.
Feeling alone is a major risk factor for suicide and addicts have a tendency to isolate. Being around others who are dealing with the same issues can create a sense of camaraderie and a support network that is life-altering.
Although there may be times that life seems hopeless or your problems seem insurmountable, try to remember that plenty of people have successfully overcome mental health and addiction issues, going on to lead fulfilling, sober lives. And you can be one of them.
Learn more about finding help to overcome an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
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