Impulsive and non-impulsive suicide attempts in patients treated for alcohol dependence

J Affect Disord. 2009 May;115(1-2):131-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2008.09.001. Epub 2008 Oct 2.


Background: Suicidal behavior has been recognized as an increasing problem among alcohol-dependent subjects. The aim of the study was to identify correlates of impulsive and non-impulsive suicide attempts among a treated population of alcohol-dependent patients.

Methods: A total of 154 patients with alcohol dependence consecutively admitted for addiction treatment participated in the study. Suicidal behavior was assessed together with severity of alcohol dependence, childhood abuse, impulsivity, and family history. A stop-signal procedure was used as a behavioral measure of impulsivity.

Results and conclusions: Lifetime suicide attempts were reported by 43% of patients in alcohol treatment; of which 62% were impulsive. Compared to patients without a suicide attempt, those with a non-impulsive attempt were more likely to have a history of sexual abuse (OR=7.17), a family history of suicide (OR=4.09), and higher scores on a personality measure of impulsiveness (OR=2.27). The only significant factor that distinguished patients with impulsive suicide attempts from patients without a suicide attempt and from patients with a non-impulsive suicide attempt was a higher level of behavioral impulsivity (OR=1.84-2.42).

Limitations: Retrospective self-report of suicide attempts and family history. Lack of diagnostic measure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / genetics
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / epidemiology
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Poland
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult