Alcohol-use disorder (AUD) has a strong link to suicide, according to a Virginia Commonwealth University-led study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Researchers studied 2.2 million people in Swedish population-based registries. The study is part of a series of population studies the university is conducting with Sweden’s Lund University.
Alcohol-use disorder “is a potent risk factor for suicide, with a substantial association persisting after accounting for confounding factors,” researchers said. “These findings underscore the impact of AUD on suicide risk, even in the context of other mental illness, and implicate the time frame shortly after a medical or criminal AUD registration as critical for efforts to reduce alcohol-related suicide.”
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines AUD as a chronic disease involving compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using. An estimated 14.4 million American adults had AUD in 2018.
The institute awarded researchers more than $950,000 for the first two years of the four-year study and additional studies.
Alexis Edwards, lead author of the study, said doctors should be aware of suicide risk among patients with AUD and should formally assess these patients for suicide risk.