Violence, alcohol, and completed suicide: a case-control study

Am J Psychiatry. 2001 Oct;158(10):1701-5. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.158.10.1701.


Objective: Violent behavior may represent a risk factor for suicide. The authors tested the hypothesis that violent behavior in the last year of life is associated with completed suicide, even after controlling for alcohol use disorders.

Method: The authors analyzed data from the 1993 National Mortality Followback Survey, a nationally representative survey conducted by telephone interview with decedents' next of kin. Data on 753 victims of suicide were compared with data on 2,115 accident victims. Decedents ranged in age from 20 to 64. Dichotomous measures of violent behavior in the past year and history of alcohol misuse were derived by using the four-item CAGE questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression was used to evaluate the interactions of violent behavior with alcohol misuse, gender, and age, respectively, in predicting suicide versus accidental death. Education and race were included as covariates.

Results: Violent behavior in the last year of life was a significant predictor of suicide; the relationship was especially strong in individuals with no history of alcohol misuse, those who were younger, and women.

Conclusions: Violent behavior distinguished suicide victims from accident victims, and this finding is not attributable to alcohol use disorders alone. Given that violent behavior increases the risk of suicide, violence prevention initiatives may serve to decrease the risk of suicide as well.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*