Alcohol Abuse, Addiction Affect Suicide Rates
Factors that affect suicide rates include drug addiction and alcohol abuse. Studies also show that being male, or part of a minority group, affects the incidence of suicide. New data from the CDC’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report shows that interventional programs should focus on alcohol treatment and rehabilitation to reduce the risk of suicide among minorities especially.
The study examined suicides reported in 17 states in 2005 and 2006. Almost one fourth had alcohol levels that exceed legal limits for driving when tested following suicide. The study was led by Dr. Alex Crosby of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, showing that alcohol is a major contributor to suicide rates.
Crosby says that interventional programs that try to address suicide prevention should focus on alcohol as a cause. Public health policies should focus on how much alcohol is really contributing to depression, impaired judgment, and health problems related to the nervous system and behavior. In addition to alcohol treatment and rehabilitation, the authors propose higher tax rates and laws on alcohol to prevent a problem that is “considered ordinary behavior”.
Alcohol can worsen depression, making intervention important, especially among Hispanics and American Indian and Alaska Natives who have the highest rates of alcohol related suicides. Alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs can play an important role in helping to reduce the risk of deaths from worsening depression and hopelessness.
Given the findings that high alcohol levels are found in a large number of suicide cases, more alcohol programs should be developed. Dr. Eric Caine, chair of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y. says, "Here's more data on how something like alcohol is fuel on the fire, and we need to ask ourselves what we are going to do about it." Raising alcohol taxes, and focusing on alcohol treatment programs should become a public focus to reduce the toll of alcohol consumption on health and suicide rates.