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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1995 Jan;91(1):36-40.

Suicide attempts in which alcohol is involved: a special group in general hospital emergency rooms.

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Department of Psychiatry, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.


Sixty-two percent of 1018 parasuicide patients treated in the emergency room of Helsinki University Central Hospital in 1983 for 1207 suicide attempts had recently consumed alcohol in addition to medical drugs: 46% were women and 54% men. High body alcohol levels were associated with young age and male gender. Alcohol consumption shortly before, or at the time of, parasuicidal acts was more common among young or lonely men with previous suicide attempts. Their suicide risk was assessed as less severe and they were less often referred to a psychiatrist compared with those who had not consumed alcohol. They were also more often left without arranged after-care. By the end of a 5.5-year follow-up period, 3.3% of these alcohol consumers had committed suicide, an annual suicide mortality of 598/100,000. In the year following the initial attempt, suicide mortality was 1809/100,000, a 51-fold risk compared to that of the total population in Helsinki. Sixty-seven percent of alcohol consumers during the initial suicide attempt also took it before actually committing suicide, and 30% of these revealed clear evidence of chronic alcohol consumption. Those who initially consumed alcohol were identifiable as a risk group for suicide, and thus improvement in their recognition and treatment in the emergency rooms of general hospitals is recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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