Clinical, genomic, and neurophysiological correlates of lifetime suicide attempts among individuals with an alcohol use disorder

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 May 14:2023.04.28.23289173. doi: 10.1101/2023.04.28.23289173.


Research has identified clinical, genomic, and neurophysiological markers associated with suicide attempts (SA) among individuals with psychiatric illness. However, there is limited research among those with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), despite their disproportionately higher rates of SA. We examined lifetime SA in 4,068 individuals with DSM-IV alcohol dependence from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (23% lifetime suicide attempt; 53% female; mean age: 38). Within participants with an AUD diagnosis, we explored risk across other clinical conditions, polygenic scores (PGS) for comorbid psychiatric problems, and neurocognitive functioning for lifetime suicide attempt. Participants with an AUD who had attempted suicide had greater rates of trauma exposure, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other substance use disorders compared to those who had not attempted suicide. Polygenic scores for suicide attempt, depression, and PTSD were associated with reporting a suicide attempt (ORs = 1.22 - 1.44). Participants who reported a SA also had decreased right hemispheric frontal-parietal theta and decreased interhemispheric temporal-parietal alpha electroencephalogram resting-state coherences relative to those who did not, but differences were small. Overall, individuals with an AUD who report a lifetime suicide attempt appear to experience greater levels of trauma, have more severe comorbidities, and carry polygenic risk for a variety of psychiatric problems. Our results demonstrate the need to further investigate suicide attempts in the presence of substance use disorders.

Keywords: alcohol use disorder; polygenic score; substance use disorder; suicide.

Publication types

  • Preprint