Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said the study sheds light on how alcohol and suicide interact.
"The depression that results in suicide may result in drinking," Katz said. "Perhaps the suicide decision is made first, and the alcohol follows to numb the pain, or perhaps alcohol truly does convert passive despondency into desperate acts. If so, it is a contributor, not an essential cause -- since the majority of suicides do not involve alcohol."
Both depression and alcohol abuse are significant public health problems, Katz said. "The mixture is highly volatile, and potentially fatal. Diligent, ongoing efforts to find and treat depression, and to prevent excessive alcohol intake are needed so the two collide less often."
For more information on suicide, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Alex Crosby, M.D., M.P.H., medical epidemiologist, division of violence prevention, Injury Center, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; June 19, 2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
All rights reserved