Alcohol as an acute risk factor for recent suicide attempts: a case-crossover analysis

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2013 Jul;74(4):552-8. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2013.74.552.


Objective: The extent to which acute alcohol use is a unique risk factor for suicide attempts is unknown. The aims of the current study were to quantify the unique effect of acute alcohol use on suicide attempts when adjusting for other acute exposures (other drug use and negative life events).

Method: The current study used a case-crossover design and participants included 192 (62% female) recent suicide attempters presenting to a Level 1 trauma hospital. A timeline followback methodology was used to assess acute exposures within the 48 hours before the suicide attempt.

Results: Results indicated that individuals were at increased odds of attempting suicide soon after drinking (odds ratio [OR] = 6.34), adjusting for acute drug use and negative life events. Furthermore, higher levels of drinking uniquely posed greater risk for a suicide attempt than lower levels of drinking (OR = 6.13) and no drinking (OR = 16.19) before the attempt.

Conclusions: Findings suggest the importance of considering acute alcohol use when evaluating short-term risk for suicide attempts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors