RESEARCH – January 2005

Alcohol and drug using pattern predicts suicides


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The purpose of the study is to compare the pattern of substance use among suicidents in comparison with a matched control group regarding gender, age and nationality. The data covering 427 suicide cases were collected with psychological autopsy method in 1999. The data of the controls, matched with those of the suicidents, regarding region, gender, age and nationality, were collected in 2002–2003. The diagnoses of substance disorders according to the DSM-IV criteria were based on the clinical diagnoses and interviews. The results showed that 59.8% of the Estonian suicide victims were alcoholics or alcohol abusers and were 5.3% drug abusers. One-third of the alcohol-dependent suicidents had received their diagnosis of alcohol dependence or abuse before our diagnostic procedure, which shows an underdiagnosing of alcohol use disorders. The analysis showed a significantly higher risk of alcohol dependence (R’ = 8.5; 95% CI = 5.3–14.3) and drug abuse (R’ = 5.5; 95% CI = 1.9–22.0) among the suicidents in comparison with the controls. The males had a higher prevalence of substance use disorders than the females, although the female and male suicidents in all age groups were at higher risk of alcohol dependence in comparison with the controls Our study showed that substance use disorders, especially alcohol dependence and drug abuse, were important suicide risk factors.