Alcohol or drugs key factor in 80% of Cork suicide cases in study – Irish Examiner

Alcohol or drugs have been detected in eight out of 10 suicides examined in a study of 121 cases in Cork over a six-year period, writes Cormac O’Keeffe.

The analysis is one of the first to compare young people (aged 15-24) and adults (aged 25-34) in terms of socio-democratic factors, substance abuse and method characteristics.

The study was conducted by researchers attached to the National Suicide Research Foundation in University College Cork, the university’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, and St Patrick’s Mental Health Services in Cork.

The study looked at 61 suicides of young people and 60 of adults between 2007 and 2012.

Toxicology tests showed that 80% of the total sample had used either alcohol or drugs at the time of the death.

The study, published online in the academic journal PLOSone, showed alcohol was found in toxicology tests of 52% of people.

It said the results did not reveal a significant association between alcohol and age among those who died by suicide — with similar rates between young people and adults.

“Approximately 50% of individuals who died by suicide had alcohol detected at the time of death,” said the report.

“This finding can contribute to informing governments and policy makers about suicide prevention efforts.”

The report said that more than 70% of young people and more than 60% of adults had a history of alcohol and/or drug use.

The survey found alcohol consumption among young people was more likely to occur during weekends and drinking “may exacerbate depression and depressive symptoms”.

It said: “Even though alcohol use is not the only risk factor for suicide, it increases disinhibiting thoughts and behaviour and depressive symptoms, impacting on the other risk factors for suicide. Therefore, alcohol use may increase the likelihood that suicidal behaviour will occur.”

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