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American Indians at Heightened Risk for Suicide After Heavy Drinking
Date:2/5/2013

TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- American Indians are at much greater risk than other ethnic groups for suicide following acute alcohol intoxication, according to a new study.

Suicide is a particular problem among young American Indian and Alaska Native people, the study found, with 22 percent of those who committed suicide younger than 21 and half of them younger than 29.

Alcohol-related prevention strategies should focus on suicide as a consequence of alcohol use, particularly among American Indian and Alaska Native young adults, the researchers said.

Using data compiled from 2003 to 2009 by the National Violent Death Reporting System, the researchers examined the demographic and toxicology reports for more than 59,000 people from 16 states who committed suicide. Of these, 76 percent had their blood tested for alcohol. Acute alcohol intoxication at the time of death was defined as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.

Alcohol use and intoxication before suicide was particularly common among American Indian and Alaska Native populations, the data revealed. To some extent, alcohol use was also more common among Latinos who committed suicide, compared to whites. Alcohol use was less prevalent among blacks and Asians who committed suicide.

The study was published online Feb. 4 and appears in the May print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"We showed considerable differences across ethnic groups in the association between alcohol intoxication and suicide and types of suicide," study corresponding author Raul Caetano, professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas, said in a journal news release. "Although alcohol intoxication is important for all groups, American Indians are much more at risk than other groups."

Heavier drinkers are more at risk too, Caetano said, and alcohol treatment facilities and clinicians should take their highe
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