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Am J Public Health. 2014 Jan;104(1):171-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301352. Epub 2013 May 16.

Acute use of alcohol and methods of suicide in a US national sample.

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Kenneth R. Conner is with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY. Nathalie Huguet is with the Center for Public Health Studies, Portland State University, Portland, OR. Raul Caetano is with the University of Texas School of Public Health, Dallas Regional Campus, Dallas. Norman Giesbrecht is with the Social and Epidemiological Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON. Bentson H. McFarland is with the Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland. Kurt B. Nolte is with the Office of the Medical Investigator, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque. At the time of the study, Mark S. Kaplan was with the School of Community Health, Portland State University.



We explored age, gender, and racial/ethnic differences with alcohol use and firearms, hanging or asphyxiation, and poisoning methods of suicide.


We analyzed data for 37,993 suicide decedents aged 18 years and older from the 2005-2010 National Violent Death Reporting System database. Multinomial logistic regressions examined associations of method with alcohol use defined by blood alcohol content. Two-way interactions tested the effects of age, gender, and race/ethnicity on the associations between alcohol use and method of suicide.


Alcohol was present among decedents who used the 3 leading methods of suicide: firearm (35.0%), hanging (36.8%), and poisoning (32.7%). Two-way interaction tests suggested that in young and middle adulthood, individuals were more likely to drink alcohol when they used a firearm or hanging (compared with poisoning), but in older adulthood, the reverse was true, with alcohol use more likely with poisoning. Interaction tests also suggested that Asians and Pacific Islanders were most likely to use alcohol in poisonings and that Blacks were least likely to use alcohol in hangings.


The results suggested that alcohol use before suicide was influenced by several factors, including age, race/ethnicity, and suicide method.

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