Alcohol and Suicide
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death around the globe, but it is a topic that most people feel uncomfortable talking about. Despite how frequently it occurs, there is a great taboo against people taking their own life. It is viewed as a drastic action because it is irreversible. Family members of those who have committed suicide can be deeply impacted by the event. Not only will they have to deal with the loss but also the social stigma attached to it. Many of those who are left behind will never completely come to terms with what happened.
There is a close relationship between alcohol consumption and suicide. Excessive drinking may not be the direct cause of the suicidal thoughts, but intoxication can give the individual the mindset to take their own life. It seems almost certain that in many cases the people who committed suicide would not have gone through with it if they had been sober. The pattern of alcohol consumption that is most often associated with suicide is binge drinking.
Binge Drinking Defined
Those who binge drink are consuming alcohol with the intention of feeling the effects of intoxication. In practice this means that the individual consumes a large quantity of alcohol in a short period of time with the intention of getting drunk. This may be a behavior that the individual only engages in once or twice a week, but it can still be highly dangerous. In the US it is standard to define binge drinking as:
* Men who consume more than five drinks in one session.
* Women who consume more than four drinks in one session.
In the above example a drink is a standard beer, a glass of wine, or a bar shot of standard spirits.
Suicide can be defined as the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally. It also involves any thoughts, plans or attempts of the individual to end their own life. This act of committing suicide is often referred to as, a permanent solution to a temporary problem. This refers to the fact that, at least in the eyes of other people, the reasons to justify the suicide are usually solvable problems. Ending life is a shame when there are other less drastic options open to the individual.
Causes of Suicide
There are many reasons for why an individual might attempt suicide including:
* When people are suffering the intoxicating effects of alcohol or drugs it means they are more likely to make impulsive decisions. Suicide is rarely a spur of the moment decision but intoxication can give the individual the mindset to go through with the act.
* Those individuals who are dealing with the symptoms of depression may be in a great deal of psychological discomfort and not see any reason to go on. When people are deep in depression they may not have the energy to commit suicide – it sometimes occurs when the individual appears to be getting over their depression.
* There are people who are terminally ill or dealing with chronic pain. The decision of such people to commit suicide is highly controversial as there is no clear ethical guidance – some people believe that in certain extreme situations suicide is rational and ethical.
* Those individuals who are suffering from mental health problems can be driven to take their own life. An example of this would be those individuals who have become psychotic and hear voices that are telling them to commit this act.
* For some people the suicide attempt will be a cry for help. Unfortunately this attempt at seeking attention for their plight can lead to their actual death or leave them with permanent health consequences.
* Those individuals who have a family history of suicide are more at risk of copying this behavior.
* When people lose their job or suffer a major life trauma they may see suicide as the only answer.
* Those people who are dealing with a high degree of loneliness may feel that they have nothing to live for. There are some individuals who find solitude to be a real blessing but other people will find that lack of companionship makes their life unbearable.
* If people have suffered s serious mental trauma during childhood they will be more likely to commit this act.
Relationship between Binge Drinking and Suicide
Those individuals who successfully commit suicide will often have high blood alcohol concentrations. In fact alcohol use is the most frequently cited factor associated with suicidal behavior. It is likely that in many instances the end of life would have been prevented if the individual had not been binge drinking. The individual may have been already thinking of suicide but intoxication can produce the mental state that allows them to complete this act.
Reasons Why Binge Drinking Increases Risk of Suicide
There are a number of reasons for why binge drinking increases the risk of suicide including:
* When people are inebriated they are more likely to act impulsively.
* Excessive alcohol intake interferes with the person’s ability to make good decisions. This inability to reason properly means that the individual will fail to properly appreciate the consequences of their actions.
* Those who regularly engage in binge drinking may develop the symptoms of depression. This increases their likelihood of developing suicidal thoughts.
* The lack of inhibition means that the individual may act in ways that they later feel ashamed about – for example, they could become a violent drunk. This shame can drive them to take their own life.
* It increases the risk that the individual will accidently commit suicide. Their inability to make good decisions means that their cry for help leads to their own death.
* Drinking problems lead to deterioration in the life of the individual. This means that things can become too much for them and they believe that suicide is the only way out.
Binge Drinking and Teen Suicide
There is a strong relationship between teen suicide and binge drinking. It is suggested that those young people who adopt this pattern of drinking are four times more likely to commit suicide. Those teenagers who are binge drinking and who are dealing with stressful events in their life are the most at risk. It is suggested that 90% of the alcohol consumed by teenagers is in the form of binge drinking. As well as increasing their risk for suicide this pattern of drinking can also:
* Teenagers who binge drink are likely to suffer from physical health problems. Studies have shown that young people who engage in this behavior are more likely to become overweight and develop high blood pressure – they can even enter the early stages of alcoholic liver disease or develop other problems.
* Those people who begin drinking at an early age are more likely to develop alcoholism.
* If people binge drinking during adolescents it can interfere with the normal development pattern that should occur at this stage in life.
* This form of alcohol abuse is likely to prevent people from performing well in school or college. This may have negative consequences for their future prospects.
* Such individuals are also more likely to drop out of school.
* When people engage in this behavior it means they are more likely to slip into deviant behavior. This can include acts of vandalism leading to more serious crimes.
* When young people are inebriated they are more likely to engage in sexual behavior that they will later regret. Such individuals will also be at higher risk of sexual assault.
Other Dangers Associated with Binge Drinking
The binge drinker may not consume alcohol every day but this does not mean that they will escape the mental and physical problems associated with alcohol abuse. As well as an increased risk of committing suicide the binge drinker will also be at risk of:
* Those pattern of drinking will sometimes lead to alcohol poisoning. In this situation the individual’s blood alcohol content is so high that it can put their life in jeopardy – there are many examples of people who drowned on their own vomit while in this state.
* It is not necessary for people to drink every day before they begin to develop alcoholic liver disease and other chronic conditions. Alcohol acts as a toxin in the body and it can do a great deal of damage.
* People who engage in this pattern of drinking will suffer from a type of amnesia known as blackouts. There may be long periods of the time spent drinking that the individual just can’t remember.
* Those who binge drink will often suffer from hangovers the next day. This means that they will be less able to perform their work duties and take care of other responsibilities.
* This style of drinking increases the risk that people will engage in crime or be a victim of crime.
* The vast majority of alcoholics will have started out as binge drinkers. It is the pattern of consumption that is mostly closely linked to alcohol addiction – it is not necessary for the individual to drink every day for them to become an alcoholic.
* When people are inebriated they are more likely to do things that they later regret. It is common for binge drinkers to feel at least some embarrassment about things they did while under the influence.
* Parents who engage in this behavior are setting a bad example for their children. These young people can grow up believing that this pattern of drinking is normal and acceptable.