Researchers have turned to a new informational source in the new study that examines the link between alcohol and suicides. Instead of only comparing suicide numbers with relative proximity of alcohol availability, these researchers decided to look at how much alcohol was in the system, if any, of the person who committed suicide. This information could then allow for better local policies regarding the sale of alcohol, and better preventative measures against alcohol-related suicides.
In order to determine how prevalent alcohol was in suicides, and how much alcohol was in the body at the time of suicide, researchers analyzed data gathered by National Violent Death Reporting System. This system collects information regarding violent deaths, and is a sub organization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For this particular study, information from 14 states was synthesized into a more specific picture of alcohol-related suicides. Researchers were particularly interested in how easy it was to acquire alcohol and how this related to suicides, and what the blood alcohol content was of those who committed suicide after consuming alcohol.
Of the 51,547 suicides examined, they noted that 34% of them had alcohol in their system, and 22% of those people had blood alcohol levels higher than .08%. The researchers also pointed out that areas with a wide variety of alcohol outlets, bars and clubs had more alcohol-related suicides, especially among Native American and Alaskan native men. This was a new discovery, because it unveils two populations that are not usually represented when planning for suicide prevention and alcohol education. But researchers were not surprised by this outcome and explain how this can occur with men in these populations.
“There’s a long history with regard to drinking problems in many sectors of [Native populations], It could be, partly, that the drinking patterns are somewhat different. I think it could also be that, in some cases, there may be a sense of desperation or many challenges. So, suicide may be one of the ways people deal with that,” explained Dr. Norman Giesbrecht, one of the researchers of the study.
This study is unique because it examines more than just the relationship between suicides and alcohol density in cities in towns throughout the United States. It shows that many people who commit suicide are consuming a lot of alcohol beforehand, and this could be a major warning sign to family and friends.