Online Program

Age and gender differences in patterns of alcohol use preceding suicide: Findings from the 2003-10 national violent death reporting system

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 8:56 a.m. - 9:14 a.m.

Mark S. Kaplan, DrPH, School of Community Health, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Nathalie Huguet, PhD, School of Community Health, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Bentson H. McFarland, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Raul Caetano, MD, MPH, PhD, School of Public Health, University of Texas Dallas Regional Campus, Dallas, TX
Kenneth Conner, PsyD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Norman Giesbrecht, PhD, Social & Epidemiological Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada
Kurt B. Nolte, MD, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Office of the Medical Investigator, Albuquerque, NM
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States. Chronic alcohol use is widely regarded as a risk factor for suicide, but acute alcohol use is also essential to consider as an important factor in suicidal behaviors. Little is known about the patterns of alcohol involvement based on alcohol consumption immediately before death particularly among men and women across the age span. This study aimed to estimate post-mortem blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels and the prevalence of alcohol dependence (as a circumstance preceding death) among suicide decedents in the United States by gender and age. Data derived from the National Violent Death Reporting System, an 18-state active surveillance system that provides a detailed account of violent deaths, including alcohol toxicology data, for 50,437 male and female suicide decedents in 2003-10. The measures of interest included postmortem blood alcohol content (BAC>0 and BAC≥0.08g/dl) prior to death and known alcohol dependence (AD). Overall, male decedents were more likely to be BAC+ at time of death than their female counterparts, except in the youngest (<21 years) and oldest (≥65 years). Nearly 70% of all BAC+ suicide decedents had BAC levels at or above .08g/dl. Fewer than 45% of male and female suicide decedents BAC+ were known to have had a history of AD prior to their death. These results point to unmet public health needs, particularly the high prevalence of acute use of alcohol prior to death among male and female suicide decedents across the age span.

Learning Areas:


Learning Objectives:
Describe the role of alcohol use in suicidal behaviors among men and women across the age span.

Keyword(s): Alcohol, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have expertise in suicide research and serve as PI on the NIAAA grant that supported this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.