Thursday, March 12, 2020

Alcohol Use Disorder Is Significant Risk Factor for Suicide, Study Finds

Even after accounting for additional psychiatric diagnoses, people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) have a substantially increased risk of dying by suicide, according to a study of the Swedish population published today in AJP in Advance.

“While this association is strongest during the period close to an AUD registration, the effect persists for decades,” wrote Alexis C. Edwards, Ph.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University and colleagues.

The researchers analyzed population registry data of all Swedish citizens born between 1950 and 1970, including inpatient and outpatient records and criminal records of individuals beginning at age 15. They gathered information on AUD diagnoses and other psychiatric diagnoses, as well as cause of death. Deaths of undetermined intent were included as suicides.

In the final cohort of 2,229,880 individuals, the suicide rate for those without AUD was 0.29% for women and 0.76% for men. For those with AUD, the rate was 3.54% for women and 3.94% for men.

The association between AUD and suicide was most pronounced in individuals who did not have other psychiatric disorders, the researchers noted. Women with AUD had a substantially higher risk of suicide than men before accounting for other psychiatric disorders. “Our findings indicate that psychiatric comorbidity attenuates the AUD-suicide association, particularly among women,” they wrote.

In particular, AUD was the strongest predictor of suicide death in the first five years of observation for both men and women. The findings suggest that “prevention and intervention efforts may be most effective when directed toward individuals facing a relatively recent AUD-related incident” and for those with early onset of AUD, the authors wrote.

“These findings underscore the nuanced role of AUD in suicide risk and have implications for efforts aimed at reducing suicide and characterizing risk potential as a function of coexisting conditions,” the authors concluded.

For related information, see the American Journal of Psychiatry article “A Closer Look at Substance Use and Suicide.”

(Image: iStock/toddtaulman)

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