Online Program

Binge Drinking During the Economic Downturn: Did the Rate of Increase in Alcohol-related Suicides Mirror Consumption Patterns in the General Population?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Mark S. Kaplan, DrPH, Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Nathalie Huguet, PhD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Bentson H. McFarland, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Raul Caetano, MD, MPH, PhD, Prevention Research Center, Oakland, CA
William C. Kerr, PhD, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA
Norman Giesbrecht, Ph.D., Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada
background: The prevalence of alcohol intoxication among suicide decedents increased during the recent economic downturn (Kaplan et al. 2014). The relationship between economic conditions, alcohol use and suicide is complex. This study tested the hypothesis that the change in the rate of acute alcohol use among suicide decedents during the recent economic downturn mirrored consumption patterns in the general population.

methods: Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (2005-11) and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2006-11) were analyzed by multiple logistic regression to test whether the change in acute intoxication (i.e., BAC≥0.08 g/dl or "binge drinking") during the Great Recession was explained by a change in binge drinking patterns in a living sample.

results: The fraction of male suicide decedents who engaged in binge drinking before their death increased significantly more (+8%) than what was observed in the living sample (-2%, p<.001) shortly after the start of the Great Recession. These findings were observed among all age and racial/ethnic groups. Among women, there were no significant differences in the rate of increase in binge drinking at the start of the economic downturn relative to the living population (+2 vs. +3%, p = .52, respectively).  However, Hispanic (+7% vs. +6%, p<.05) and African American (+40% vs. +27%, p<.05) female suicide decedents had higher rates of increase than their living counterparts.

discussion: There is growing evidence that binge drinking increased significantly more among persons (especially men) who completed suicide during the recent Great Recession relative to their counterparts in the living population.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the effects of the recent economic crisis on the general population and among suicide decedents.

Keyword(s): Alcohol Use, 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.