Alcohol and Suicide
Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York, USA
Suicide in the Military. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, 210 pages.
Alcohol abuse is an important problem in the military of many countries during peacetime, war, and peacekeeping operations. Alcohol abuse in the military may contribute to suicidal behavior among servicemen. Alcohol misuse is frequently comorbid with abuse of other substances in both military and civilian populations. Alcohol, primarily in the form of ethyl alcohol (ethanol), has occupied an important place in the history of humankind for at least 8,000 years. In most Western societies, at least 90% of people consume alcohol at some time during their lives, and 30% or more of drinkers develop alcohol-related problems. Severe alcohol-related life impairment, alcohol dependence (alcoholism), is observed at some time during their lives in about 10% of men and 3–5% of women. An additional 5–10% of each sex develops persistent, but less intense, problems that are diagnosed as alcohol abuse. Brain damage and neurobehavioral deficits are associated with alcohol use disorders and may contribute to suicidal behavior in persons with alcohol dependence or abuse. Aggression/impulsivity and alcoholism severity affect risk for suicide among individuals with alcoholism. Major depressive episodes and stressful life events particularly, partner-relationship disruptions, may precipitate suicidal behavior in individuals with alcohol use disorders. Alcohol misuse and psychosocial adversity can combine to increase stress on the person, and, thereby, potentially, increase the risk for suicidal behavior. It is to be hoped that the efforts of clinicians will reduce morbidity and mortality associated with alcohol misuse.