Alcohol and Suicide
Alcohol and suicide have a tragically close relationship. Individuals with suicidal thoughts often turn to alcohol, and alcohol increases suicidal thoughts.
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The Relationship Between Alcoholism and Suicide
Suicide is a difficult thing to discuss openly for many individuals, especially for members of cultures with special hostility towards it. However, turning feelings of suicide into a more open topic of discussion can prevent people from committing the act and seek the help they need. This is especially important in cases where addiction to alcohol and suicide are both issues.
Please Take a Moment…
If you are contemplating suicide, please stop reading and call 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is open 24/7 and allows anyone to speak openly and anonymously. They provide an online chat as well if you feel more comfortable not verbally communicating.
How Are Alcohol and Suicide Connected?
In today’s world, most people have been or personally know someone who has been affected by the suicide of someone close to them. Suicide rates have regularly climbed over time. While there is rarely one reason behind a person’s choice to commit suicide, there is one thing that is indisputable. Alcohol has been found in relation to nearly one-third of suicides – a significantly larger concentration than there are people who suffer from alcoholism in the general population.
It is impossible to narrow down to a single reason that people come to commit suicide. The abuse of alcohol, however, is often a first step down the road. It is a sad fact, but the reality is that many people out there are using alcohol as self-medication. Whether they suffer from anxiety, some kind of mood or personality disorder, or are trying to cope with a trauma, many people turn to alcohol to forget their problems. The chronic use of this substance, however, can mean that someone builds a tolerance, dependence, and eventually an addiction.
What was once an aid, is now another strain on their life. Harming their relationships, their profession, and even their body. Alcoholism has the power to devastate a person with no history of health issues. When someone who does have that history mixes it with alcohol abuse, it makes them more likely to take their own life.
Although alcohol may provide temporary relief from suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide), it actually makes the issue exponentially worse. In most cases, mid-to-long-term alcohol abuse makes suicidal ideation both more frequent and more powerful, increasing the likelihood of suicide attempts. Additionally, alcohol abuse generally makes other contributing factors to suicide worse. For example, alcohol exacerbates the symptoms of many mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and depression, all of which contribute to suicide. Alcoholism can also cause problems at a job, within a family, to interpersonal relationships, and with the legal system which may influence suicide.
Alcohol and Suicide Statistics
People with alcoholism are up to 120 times more likely to commit suicide than those who are not dependent on alcohol.
On average, someone commits suicide every 40 seconds.
29% of suicide victims in America were found with alcohol in their system.
The Implications of Alcohol and Suicide
The pain felt by someone who has taken their own life is often harder to deal with than if they died by another means. The people left behind begin questioning, wondering if they could have done something to prevent it and take the blame on themselves. While these feelings can be difficult to navigate, finding someone to talk things out with can be the best thing you can do for your own health.
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Getting Help for a Loved One
If someone you love has a problem with alcohol, or you have noticed them acting out of the ordinary, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. Throwing around unfounded accusations could make them feel attacked and escalate the situation. Rather, reach out to a dedicated treatment specialist. They can help you determine the best course of action and make sure you have all the tools necessary to intervene in your loved one’s life.
- Author — Last Edited: May 20, 2019
Mayo Clinic. (2018). End of Life. Retrieved June 8th, 2018 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (2018). Homepage. Retrieved June 8th. 2018 from https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Pompili, Maurizio. (2010). Suicidal Behavior and Alcohol Abuse. Retrieved June 8th, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872355/
The University of Texas at Austin. (2013). Heling a Student Who Has Lost a Friend or Family Member to Suicide. Retrieved June 8th, 2018 from https://cmhc.utexas.edu/bethatone/studentscopingsuicide.html