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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Alcohol Use Disorders among Patients Examined in Emergency Departments after a Suicide Attempt

To assess the prevalence of alcohol use disorders (AUD) in a population of patients examined following attempted suicide and compare suicide attempts with and without AUD.

180 patients examined in an emergency department after a suicide attempt were compared with 180 controls paired for sex and age. All patients answered the CAGE and the Fagerström questionnaire. The DSM-IV-R criteria for alcohol, nicotine and cannabis abuse and dependence, as well as for borderline and antisocial personality, were checked.

The prevalence of AUD was 43% among suicide attempters. Suicide attempters with AUD were more often men (52 vs. 30%), living alone (64 vs. 31%) and older (35.9 vs. 32.3 years). They were more often dependent on nicotine (87 vs. 43%) and smoked more cannabis joints (1.4 vs. 0.5). They had taken alcohol before committing suicide more often (61 vs. 23%) and had more previous suicide attempts (2.5 vs. 0.9). Additionally, suicide attempters had higher scores of sensation seeking and presented more often with an antisocial or borderline personality.

43% of the patients examined after a suicide attempt presented with AUD. Emergency units may provide an opportunity to identify their dependence disorder and offer information and treatment.

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