INTERNATIONAL: Alcohol Policies Contribute to Suicide Prevention, Review Shows

September 30, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Medical Xpress

According to an international review, policies intended to restrict the use of alcohol may reduce the risk of suicide in a population. While the relationship between alcohol consumption and suicide rates has been established by a body of research, fewer studies have investigated the impact of alcohol policies on suicide risk. Examining 17 studies conducted in the U.S. and internationally between 1999 and 2014, researchers found that higher alcohol taxation was associated with lower suicide rates. In addition, limited alcohol availability was found to be associated with lower suicide mortality and less alcohol involvement (blood alcohol content levels) in suicide deaths. Based on their findings, the authors proposed a public health approach to suicide prevention that addresses alcohol involvement at the population level, not just among those at highest risk. “By making alcohol less available, it is possible to reduce the average risk of suicide, especially those where alcohol is involved,” they wrote. “Departing from approaches that narrowly target members deemed at ‘high risk’ and that commonly address suicidal behaviors almost exclusively as problems of individuals, this population-based approach is likely to maximize public health benefit and to show long-lasting influence on reducing suicide.”

Weekly Spark! Read the research abstract.