Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of jepicomhJournal of Epidemiology and Community HealthVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Epidemiol Community Health. 1992 June; 46(3): 256–260.
PMCID: PMC1059563

Blood alcohol levels in suicide cases.


STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to investigate the relationship between alcohol consumption prior to suicide and the act of suicide. DESIGN--This was a retrospective total ascertainment survey of a three year cohort of suicides in Western Australia. SETTING--Coroner's records of suicide in Western Australia between 1986 and 1988 inclusive. PARTICIPANTS--The study involved 515 consecutive suicides: 414 males and 101 females. MAIN RESULTS--Information on blood alcohol levels at time of death, presence of other drugs at time of death, drug and alcohol abuse history, psychiatric history, life events prior to death and method of suicide were collected. It was found that 35.8% of cases had a positive blood alcohol reading. Those who had been drinking alcohol prior to suicide were younger, more likely to be male, more likely to have chosen carbon monoxide as the method of suicide, more likely to have experienced a break up of a relationship and less likely to have sought professional help than those who had not been drinking. CONCLUSIONS--Data from the present study do not provide evidence for a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and suicide. Differences between those who had consumed alcohol and those who had not are suggestive of a contributory role of alcohol to a decision to commit suicide in a subset of suicide cases.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (986K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • James IP. Blood alcohol levels following successful suicide. Q J Stud Alcohol. 1966 Mar;27(1):23–29. [PubMed]
  • Kraft DP, Babigian HM. Suicide by persons with and without psychiatric contacts. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976 Feb;33(2):209–215. [PubMed]
  • Varadaraj R, Mendonca J. A survey of blood-alcohol levels in self-poisoning cases. Adv Alcohol Subst Abuse. 1987;7(1):63–69. [PubMed]
  • Friedman IM. Alcohol and unnatural deaths in San Francisco youths. Pediatrics. 1985 Aug;76(2):191–193. [PubMed]
  • Brent DA, Perper JA, Allman CJ. Alcohol, firearms, and suicide among youth. Temporal trends in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1960 to 1983. JAMA. 1987 Jun 26;257(24):3369–3372. [PubMed]
  • Berglund M. Suicide in alcoholism. A prospective study of 88 suicides: I. The multidimensional diagnosis at first admission. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1984 Sep;41(9):888–891. [PubMed]
  • Chynoweth R, Tonge JI, Armstrong J. Suicide in Brisbane--a retrospective psychosocial study. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1980 Mar;14(1):37–45. [PubMed]
  • Farmer RD. Assessing the epidemiology of suicide and parasuicide. Br J Psychiatry. 1988 Jul;153:16–20. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group