Acute use of alcohol before suicide in Kazakhstan: A population-wide study
Suicide is a significant global public health concern accounting for 1.3 % of all deaths, equivalent to 700,000 lives lost every year. Acute use of alcohol* is a well-known risk-factor for suicidal behavior and suicide attempts.
*Acute use of alcohol has been defined as the use of alcohol within 3–6 hours of suicidal behavior, or as the presence of any alcohol in the blood of an individual who attempted suicide or died by suicide.
Other studies have shown that between 32% and 36% of suicide victims test positive for alcohol. A recent meta-analysis found that alcohol use increases the risk of suicide by up to 65% (Amiri and Behnezhad, 2020)
Another study, involving 272 people who attempted suicide, found a dose-response relationship between acute use of alcohol and suicide risk, showing that every alcoholic drink increased the risk of a suicide attempt by 30% (Guilherme Borges et al., 2017).
Because of the high level of alcohol consumption in Kazakhstan, researchers wanted to examine how alcohol impacts suicide mortality in the country.
There is growing evidence that public health measures targeting a reduction of alcohol consumption might potentially reduce suicide mortality; thus, it is especially important to identify the role of acute use of alcohol in relation to suicide.”Yeskendira A, Eisenberg D, Kaplan M. Acute use of alcohol before suicide in Kazakhstan: A population-wide study. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2023; Vol 321:pages 134-139
The study shows that alcohol use is a common factor contributing to suicide in Kazakhstan, particularly among young and middle-aged male adults. Males (22.5%) use alcohol more commonly before suicide attempts than females (13.4%).
Acute use of alcohol is a proximal risk factor for suicidal behavior and suicide attempts. Previous studies have established that alcohol consumption prior to suicide increases the risk of suicide completion. Thus, the current study aims to explore the association between alcohol use and suicide mortality in Kazakhstan. This is the first study to address this association in Kazakhstan.
The main outcome measure was the presence of alcohol in blood of suicide decedents. Logistic regression models were used to test unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios of the risk of suicide involving acute use of alcohol. Regression modeling was used to identify significant predictors of alcohol use among suicide decedents.
- Males (22.5 %) used alcohol more commonly before conducting suicide than females (13.4 %).
- The odds of alcohol involvement was 2.73 times higher for males compared to females after controlling for age and other covariates.
- Being a male younger than 45 years old and using suicide methods such as poisoning, immolation, and drowning increased the odds of acute use of alcohol among suicide decedents.
Data on alcohol use included information only on individuals with a positive alcohol test, and it is unknown how many suicide decedents were not tested for alcohol.
Alcohol use is a common factor contributing to suicide, particularly among young and middle-aged male adults. Alcohol use is also associated more strongly with certain methods of suicide. Further studies and more detailed data exploring alcohol consumption and suicide risks are needed in countries such as Kazakhstan.