Alcohol-related risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and completed suicide: a meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2015 May 20;10(5):e0126870. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126870. eCollection 2015.


Background: Several original studies have investigated the effect of alcohol use disorder (AUD) on suicidal thought and behavior, but there are serious discrepancies across the studies. Thus, a systematic assessment of the association between AUD and suicide is required.

Methods: We searched PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus until February 2015. We also searched the Psycinfo web site and journals and contacted authors. We included observational (cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional) studies addressing the association between AUD and suicide. The exposure of interest was AUD. The primary outcomes were suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and completed suicide. We assessed heterogeneity using Q-test and I2 statistic. We explored publication bias using the Egger's and Begg's tests and funnel plot. We meta-analyzed the data with the random-effects models. For each outcome we calculated the overall odds ratio (OR) or risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: We included 31 out of 8548 retrieved studies, with 420,732 participants. There was a significant association between AUD and suicidal ideation (OR=1.86; 95% CI: 1.38, 2.35), suicide attempt (OR=3.13; 95% CI: 2.45, 3.81); and completed suicide (OR=2.59; 95% CI: 1.95, 3.23 and RR=1.74; 95% CI: 1.26, 2.21). There was a significant heterogeneity among the studies, but little concern to the presence of publication bias.

Conclusions: There is sufficient evidence that AUD significantly increases the risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and completed suicide. Therefore, AUD can be considered an important predictor of suicide and a great source of premature death.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / complications
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Publication Bias
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*


  • Ethanol

Grants and funding

The authors would like to thank the Islamic Azad University, Hamadan Branch, for financial support of this study. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.