Alcohol Policies and Suicide

April 14, 2017

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

A review of the research concluded that policies restricting the availability of alcohol are associated with lower suicide rates. These policies include taxes on alcohol, minimum drinking age laws, restrictions on the density of retail liquor sales, and “zero tolerance” laws that target motor vehicle operators too young to legally drink. Some findings indicated that the primary effect of these policies is on men rather than women.

The authors suggested that these studies demonstrate the benefits of using universal population-based approaches to suicide prevention, which can affect the behavior of large numbers of people, and that interventions to prevent suicide should not be restricted to approaches that “address suicidal behaviors almost exclusively as problems of individuals.” They also reported that “it is important to recognize that other socio-contextual determinants (e.g., economic recession, divorce rate, firearm legislations) may independently or interactively affect suicide, in addition to alcohol policies.”

Xuan, Z., Naimi, T. S., Kaplan, M. S., Bagge, C. L., Few, L. R., Maisto, S., . . . Freeman, R. (2016). Alcohol policies and suicide: A review of the literature. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 40(10), 2043–2055.