Use of alcohol before suicide in the United States

Mark S. Kaplan, Nathalie Huguet, Bentson H. McFarland, Raul Caetano, Kenneth R. Conner, Norman Giesbrecht, Kurt B. Nolte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Purpose: Few studies have compared acute use of alcohol in suicide decedents with that in a nonsuicide group. This study provides the first national analysis of acute use of alcohol before suicide compared with an estimate of acute use of alcohol in a living sample. Methods: Pooled 2003-2011 National Violent Death Reporting System data were used to estimate the prevalence of postmortem blood alcohol content positivity (blood alcohol content >0.0g/dL) and intoxication (blood alcohol content ≥0.08g/dL). Population estimates of comparable use of alcohol (within the past 48hours) were based on the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Results: Compared with the living sample, male and female suicide decedents showed, respectively, a 1.83-fold (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.73-1.93) and 2.40-fold (95% CI, 2.24-2.57) increased risk of alcohol ingestion before their death after age, race/ethnicity, and chronic alcohol problems were controlled. Furthermore, male and female decedents exhibited, respectively, a 6.18-fold (95% CI, 5.57-6.86) and a 10.04-fold (95% CI, 8.67-11.64) increased risk of being intoxicated before their death after confounders were considered. Conclusions: The findings underscore the crucial need to include among the essential components of suicide prevention policies programs that minimize the use of alcohol, particularly drinking to intoxication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-592.e2
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Alcohol drinking
  • Epidemiology
  • Suicide
  • Toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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