Introduction: Suicidal behaviors are often seen in alcohol-dependent individuals. The aim of this study is to identify and confirm risk factors for suicide attempts in a large, family-based sample of alcoholics.
Methods: Semistructured, detailed interviews were administered to 3190 alcohol-dependent individuals as part of the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA). Information about suicidal behavior, socioeconomic characteristics, psychiatric comorbidity, substance use disorders, and characteristics of alcohol dependence were obtained from alcohol-dependent probands, controls, and their relatives.
Results: As determined by both univariate comparison and multivariate logistic regression analysis, alcohol-dependent individuals with a history of suicide attempts were found to have a significantly more severe course of alcohol dependence and a higher prevalence of both independent and substance-induced psychiatric disorders and other substance dependence. First-degree relatives of subjects with suicide attempts showed a significantly higher rate of suicide attempts, even after controlling for additional relevant diagnoses.
Conclusion: These results support the hypothesis that alcohol-dependent individuals with a history of suicide attempts are more severely impaired. Screening and subsequent treatment of alcohol use disorder, psychiatric comorbidity, and substance use disorders among alcoholics may be crucial in preventing suicide attempts and completions.