According to a new Welsh study conducted by Public Health Wales along with Cardiff and Swansea Universities, patients admitted for emergency alcohol-related reasons may have a significantly increased risk for suicide. The findings were published in the journal PLoS One.
Researchers followed Welsh residents aged 10-100 years for 6 years. Individuals with an emergency alcohol-related hospital admission, including acute intoxication, alcohol dependence, and physical health complications were evaluated.
The findings showed that individuals admitted for alcohol-related reasons had a 27-fold higher likelihood of ending their lives compared with those not admitted for alcohol-related reasons. Although the risk was pronounced in patients with pre-existing mental health issues, the risk remained increased even for those without any evidence of mental health issues. Men accounted for greater number of suicides; however, women had a higher risk for suicide compared with men (29-fold vs 10-fold).
Although alcohol use has been historically associated with an increased risk for future suicides, the findings from this study are the first to indicate the association with emergency alcohol-related admissions. According to Dr Bethan Bowden from Public Health Wales, such patients must be treated by the hospital staff similar to patients who have self-harmed, which includes a psycho-social assessment and referral to mental health services if required.