Alcoholism, alcohol and attempted suicide.
Hawton K., Fagg J., McKeown SP.
Attempted suicide patients referred to a general hospital over a 10 year period were studied with regard to alcoholism and drinking in association with suicide attempts. Alcoholism was diagnosed in 7.9% of patients (14.6% of males and 4.2% females), and this diagnosis became proportionately more common in both sexes during the study period. However, only male alcoholic attempters showed an increase in absolute numbers during the study period, the increase in the proportion of females diagnosed as alcoholic being due to a decline in attempts by non-alcoholics. Particularly high rates of alcoholism were found in the unemployed of both sexes and in housewives. Alcoholic attempters were at greatly increased risk of making repeat attempts. Alcohol consumption shortly before a suicide attempt and as part of the act was extremely common, especially among alcoholics. In addition to increasing the likelihood of an attempt, alcohol may add considerably to the danger of overdoses. Careful investigation of drinking patterns should be an integral part of the assessment of all attempted suicide patients, and there should be close liaison between general hospital services for such patients and local alcoholism treatment services.