• Article

Binge drinking and the risk of suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts

BACKGROUND: Major depression is one of the strongest known risk factors for suicide. However, of the estimated 8.5 million adults with serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, only half had a major depressive episode (MDE). Identifying risk factors for suicide in the absence of depression may provide additional targets for prevention and intervention. This study uses nationally representative data to evaluate the association of binge drinking with suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts in adults with and without MDE. METHODS: Combined 2008-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data were analyzed. Sex-stratified prevalence estimates of past year suicide indicators were generated by past month binge drinking and past year MDE status. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association of binge drinking with suicide indicators by sex with and without MDE. RESULTS: Unadjusted prevalence estimates for suicide indicators in males and females were higher among binge drinkers than among nonbinge drinkers, regardless of MDE status. Regression analyses indicated that binge drinking was associated with suicidal thoughts (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]=1.51, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.28-1.79), plans (aOR=1.75, CI=1.23-2.48), and attempts (aOR=2.57, CI=1.74-3.79) in females without MDE and with suicidal thoughts in males without MDE (aOR=1.25, CI=1.04-1.49). Among males and females with MDE, binge drinking was not associated with any of the suicide indicators (p>.05). CONCLUSIONS: Binge drinking in females without MDE may be an indicator for identifying at risk individuals for targeting suicide prevention activities


Glasheen, C., Pemberton, M., Lipari, R., Copello, E., & Mattson, M. E. (2015). Binge drinking and the risk of suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. Addictive Behaviors, 43, 42-49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.12.005