Leo Sher, M.D.
My research article, “The relationship between the frequency of alcohol use and suicide rates in young people” was published 15 years ago in the January-March 2006 issue of the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health (1).
The relationship between the percentage of frequently drinking high school students and suicide rates among 15-24 year olds in 17 countries (Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Ukraine, and United Kingdom) was examined.
Correlations were computed to examine the relationship between suicide rates in 15-24 year-old males and females and the percentage of frequently drinking students in 17 countries. Using median split, countries were divided into two groups according to the percentage of frequently drinking students. Suicide rates in countries with the lower percentage of frequently drinking students were compared to suicide rates in countries with the higher percentage of frequently drinking students.
There was a negative correlation between the percentage of frequently drinking students and suicide rates in both males and females. The countries with the lower percentage of frequently drinking students had higher suicide rates in both 15-24-year old males and females.
The findings are consistent with the suggestion that “alcoholism tends to protect one against suicide early on, but after 20-25 years (if not earlier) it exacerbates suicide potential” (2). A small sample size is a limitation of the study. Another limitation is that this study does not control for certain factors that may affect the results. The results of this study should be treated with caution until replicated.
- Sher L. The relationship between the frequency of alcohol use and suicide rates in young people. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2006 Jan-Mar;18(1):81-5. doi: 10.1515/ijamh.2006.18.1.81. PMID: 16639861.
- Maris RW. The relation of nonfatal suicide attempts to completed suicides. In: Maris RW, Berman AL, Maltsberger JT, Yufit RI, eds. Assessment and Prediction of Suicide. Rev. ed. New York, Guilford Press 1992: 362-80.