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September 1972

Alcoholism, Alcohol Intoxication, and Suicide Attempts

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;27(3):349-353. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750270055008

A total of 34 patients were admitted to the hospital with wounds inflicted in suicide attempts, 29 were alcoholics. Of these, 26 were intoxicated at the time of the suicide attempt. Two behavioral syndromes and a high incidence of amnesia and denial (42%) were identified.

Seven patients with an "abreactive" syndrome made their attempts after becoming abruptly intoxicated. These attempts occurred in the context of an interpersonal interaction with manifest anger, aggression, and hyperactivity. These patients seldom sustained severe injuries. Eleven patients with a "depressive syndrome of chronic intoxication" made their attempts after two weeks or more of excessive drinking during which they had increasing depression in mood, motor retardation, and withdrawal. While the majority of these patients inflicted potentially fatal injuries such depressions are detectable and these suicides are potentially preventable.