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Hospital patients who abuse alcohol at higher risk of suicide says report

Credit: PA

Patients admitted to hospital for alcohol-related reasons are 27 times more likely to commit suicide compared to non-alcohol related cases, according to a new report.

A study by Public Health Wales and Cardiff and Swansea Universities says that alcohol-related admissions should be treated in the same way as self-harm-related cases.

Public Health Wales says that while the total number of suicides was greater in men, it's women who have the greatest increase in risk. The risk was 29 time greater in women compared to 10 times greater in men.

Read the full study.

“For the first time we know that emergency alcohol-related hospital admission is associated with an increased risk of suicide – especially for women.

This is important because patients, many of whom will have no previously reported mental health concerns, could be being treated without exploring underlying issues linked to an increased risk of suicide.

Hospital staff are in a unique position to assess patients who may not otherwise come forward for help. Our advice to clinicians is that these patients should be treated similarly to those who have been identified as self-harming: undertake a psycho-social assessment, and refer them to mental health services if appropriate.

This study indicates a need to consider targeted interventions for patients admitted to hospital with an alcohol-related condition as part of a suicide prevention strategy.

– Dr Bethan Bowden, Public Health Wales

Public Health Wales says alcohol use is known to be associated with a higher risk of future suicide, but this is the first study to identify the association with emergency alcohol-related admissions.

The study followed all Welsh residents, aged from 10 to 100, for six years. It looked at patients who were admitted to hospital with an emergency alcohol-related admission, including acute intoxication, alcohol dependence, as well as physical health complications related to alcohol use.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in the UK for men aged 20-49 years and women aged 20-34 years.