Alcohol and Suicide

This week saw a very moving and important examination of middle-aged male suicide by Simon Jack in BBC One Panorama: A Suicide in the Family.  There is also an article Simon Jack wrote to accompany the programme here BBC News: Fatal silence by Simon Jack.

Alcohol is implicated in a sizeable number of cases where people take their own lives, both at the time of death, and in the run up to it.

Post mortems reveal excess alcohol levels in about a quarter of those who commit suicide.  Alcohol lessens inhibitions, and for those contemplating suicide, it’s thought that in the moment, maybe alcohol removes some of the internal barriers to taking one’s own life.

It’s also known that about one in five people who have severe alcohol dependence take their own lives, (four in five of these are men).  In those who commit suicide who also are dependent on alcohol, other things have been found to be important:  divorce and separation; death of a loved one; legal problems; employment problems such as job loss; a history of trauma, abuse or violence; a history in the family of addiction problems especially with alcohol; and past attempts at suicide.

Rates of alcohol problems are also higher in groups where rates of suicide are higher, including veterans,and people with mental health problems.

Where am I going with this?  Just that this is yet another area where alcohol is involved, and maybe if we looked deeper at alcohol as well as all the other things that are involved, we might be able to make things a little better, not for everyone who is contemplating suicide, but for some.

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