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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2009 Sep;70(5):668-74.

Predictors of attempted suicide among Swiss patients with alcohol-use disorders.

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University Hospital of Psychiatry Berne, Switzerland.



Suicide attempts are common in patients being treated for alcohol-use disorders (AUDs). However, clinical assessment of suicide risk is difficult. In this Swiss multisite study, we propose a decision tree to facilitate identification of profiles of AUD patients at high risk for suicidal behavior.


In this retrospective study, we used a sample of 700 patients (243 female), attending 1 of 12 treatment programs for AUDs in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Sixty-nine patients who reported a suicide attempt in the 3 months before the index treatment were compared using risk factors with 631 patients without a suicide attempt. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were used to identify patients at risk of having had a suicide attempt in the previous 3 months.


Consistent with previous empirical findings in AUD patients, a prior history of attempted suicide and severe symptoms of depression and aggression considerably increased the risk of a suicide attempt and, in combination, raised the likelihood of a prior suicide attempt to 52%. In addition, one third of AUD patients who had a history of suicide attempts and previous inpatient psychiatric treatment, or who were male and had previous inpatient psychiatric treatment, also reported a suicide attempt.


The empirically supported decision tree helps to identify profiles of suicidal AUD patients in Switzerland and supplements clinicians' judgments in making triage decisions for suicide management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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