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Suicide ideation and alcohol use : understanding developmental trajectories

Rivers, Ian (2017) Suicide ideation and alcohol use : understanding developmental trajectories. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60 (4). p. 357. ISSN 1054-139X

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Abstract

The absence of longitudinal data relating to experiences of victimization is a perennial problem in adolescent research. Few studies offer the opportunity to explore the developmental trajectories leading to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Although numerous cross-sectional studies have reported that substance abuse (including alcohol consumption) is a significant correlate of suicide and other life-threatening behaviors among youth who have experienced victimization [1], we do not yet fully understand how alcohol is linked to suicide ideation. Is alcohol consumption a precursor to a suicidal act or has it more a distinct role to play in the lives of young people who are daily tormented by others? We know, for example, that a significant number of those youths (aged 15–19 years) who take their own lives and do not have a history of mental illness or psychiatric care have high levels of alcohol in their blood (17.1%) and no history of alcohol dependence (3.3%). This is even more evident among 20- to 24-year-olds, where one study found that 43.8% of suicides had alcohol present in their blood, but only 9.4% had any recorded history of alcohol dependence [2].