What characterizes substance abusers who commit suicide attempts? Factors related to Axis I disorders and patterns of substance use disorders. A study of treatment-seeking substance abusers in Norway

A S Landheim, K Bakken, P Vaglum
European Addiction Research 2006, 12 (2): 102-8

OBJECTIVE: The frequency of suicide attempts and clinical characteristics of attempters among poly-substance abusers and alcoholics were examined.

METHODS: A consecutive sample (n = 260) of in- and outpatients from two Norwegian counties were assessed by Composite International Diagnostic Interview (Axis I disorders), Millon's Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (Axis II disorders) and the Norwegian National Client Assessment Form. When analysing the association between suicide attempters and the range of predictor variables, logistic regression analysis was conducted.

RESULTS: Almost half (47%) of the sample reported lifetime suicide attempts; significantly more frequently in poly-substance abusers (58%) than alcoholics (38%). A substance use disorder with duration of >or=15 years and an early onset (<18 years of age) were independently associated with being a suicide attempter after controlling for Axis I disorders. In addition, eating disorders, agoraphobia and major depression were strongly and independently associated with being a suicide attempter.

CONCLUSION: Attempts at preventing suicidal behaviour should not ignore the suicide risk among poly-substance abusers. In addition, prevention of suicidal behaviour demands a treatment programme focusing concomitantly on both addictive behaviour and comorbid psychiatric disorders.

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