Depression Suicide What Is the Connection Between Alcohol and Suicide? By Buddy T Buddy T Facebook Twitter Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Learn about our editorial process Updated on June 03, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Carly Snyder, MD Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print D-Keine / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Statistics on Alcohol Use and Suicide The Connection Between Alcohol and Suicide Age-Related Patterns How to Get Help If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. People who misuse alcohol are at a higher risk for depression and suicide. Evidence suggests that people who have alcohol use problems are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and death due to suicide. This article discusses the connection between alcohol and suicide, including some additional risk factors that may play a part. Press Play to Learn More About Suicide & Suicidal Ideation Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring psychiatrist Mark Goulston, shares why people have suicidal thoughts, why you shouldn't blame yourself if you've lost someone to suicide, and what to do if you are having suicidal thoughts. Click below to listen now. Follow Now : Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Statistics on Alcohol Use and Suicide Drinking alcohol has been linked to a number of suicides and suicidal attempts. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA): A diagnosis of alcohol misuse or dependence is associated with a suicide risk that is 10 times greater than those in the general population. Of those medically treated after a suicide attempt, alcohol use disorders were found to be a significant factor, with acute alcohol intoxication present in about 30% to 40% of cases. Alcohol intoxication is involved in 22% of all suicide deaths. Rates and Statistics for Suicide in the United States The Connection Between Alcohol and Suicide Alcohol leads to decreased inhibition and affects a person's ability to think clearly. As a result, people may be more likely to act on their thoughts, including those that might be related to suicide or self-injury. Alcohol also affects mood, which can make people more prone to experiencing suicidal thinking. The combination of worse mood, more negative thinking, and lower self-control means that people are more likely to act on suicidal thoughts when they are drinking. SAMHSA also notes that alcohol increases psychological distress and aggressiveness while decreasing cognition. Alcohol may sometimes give people the motivation to act on their suicidal thoughts, while also reducing their ability to utilize other coping strategies. It is also not uncommon for alcohol use disorders to occur alongside other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other substance use disorders. Some studies have found that many people who die by suicide have a history of both alcohol misuse and depression. In some cases, people may attempt to use alcohol to self-medicate mental health symptoms. This co-occurrence of substance use with other mental health conditions can further elevate suicide risk. Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs Age-Related Patterns In general, adolescents and young adults are at the highest risk for attempted suicides throughout the world. They also tend to be the most likely to In contrast, though the attempts may be less frequent, men over age 65 are at the greatest risk for completed suicide. This suggests that there are different patterns related to age and suicide. A 2017 study found an increase in suicide attempts in older people who did and did not have substance use problems. Such findings indicate that placing all ages into one group is not an accurate way to gauge the suicide risks of either alcoholics or non-alcoholics. Older adults may be more vulnerable due to a combination of factors including mood disorders like depression, increased isolation, health issues, and alcohol use. Older adults with alcohol use disorder may also be at a higher risk of suicide because of the emotional and physical tolls their addictions take over the years. How to Get Help If you feel like your alcohol use may be contributing to thoughts of suicide or other mental health issues, talk to your doctor or mental health professional. Treatments are available that can help, including medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests that people should be aware of both the risk and protective factors that increase the risk of suicide among people who misuse alcohol. Some of these risk factors include: Academic problemsBullying and peer rejectionFamily conflictOther mental health conditionsPrevious suicide attemptsSocial withdrawalTrauma There are also factors that can lower the risk of suicide and help people work toward recovery from alcohol use disorders. Such factors include: Effective mental health and substance use treatmentDeveloping coping skills, including those that foster resilience, self-esteem, and perseveranceSocial support and bonds with family and friendsCommunity involvementAn optimistic outlookCultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide Warning Signs Family members and loved ones can help by making themselves aware of the warning signs of suicide. If someone you know has a problem with alcohol and exhibits some of the following signs, consider talking to them about getting help and reaching out to a helpline for further advice: Talking about wanting to die Expressing feelings of shame or guilt Saying that they feel like a burden to others Expressing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or sadness Withdrawing from friends and family Having sudden changes in mood Changes in sleep patterns Using alcohol or other substances more frequently Talking to your doctor or calling a suicidal helpline can connect you with the resources you need. Contact emergency services immediately if you or a loved one are in immediate danger. A Word From Verywell Being aware of the link between alcohol use and suicide is important, whether you are worried about your own risk or that of a loved one. Being aware of the warning signs of suicidal ideation can help you be more prepared to get help. How You Can Help Prevent Suicide 9 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Edwards AC, Ohlsson H, Sundquist J, Sundquist K, Kendler KS. Alcohol use disorder and risk of suicide in a swedish population-based cohort. AJP. 2020;177(7):627-634. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.19070673 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Substance use and suicide: a nexus requiring a public health approach. Gan G, Guevara A, Marxen M, et al. Alcohol-induced impairment of inhibitory control is linked to attenuated brain responses in right fronto-temporal cortex. Biological Psychiatry. 2014;76(9):698-707. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.12.017 Castillo-Carniglia A, Keyes KM, Hasin DS, Cerdá M. Psychiatric comorbidities in alcohol use disorder. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019;6(12):1068-1080. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30222-6 Pompili M, Serafini G, Innamorati M, et al. Suicidal behavior and alcohol abuse. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010;7(4):1392-1431. doi:10.3390/ijerph7041392 National Institute of Mental Health. Suicide. Esang M, Ahmed S. A closer look at substance use and suicide. American Journal of Psychiatry Residents’ Journal. 2018;13(6):6-8. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp-rj.2018.130603 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Risk and protective factors. National Institute of Mental Health. Warning signs of suicide. By Buddy T Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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