Suicide and drinking are linked, and it is important to be able to tell when someone who drinks may be at risk of killing themselves.

If you or someone you know struggles with alcohol use and is depressed, you may be concerned about suicide. If so, you are right to worry; a strong link exists between alcohol and suicide. Drunk people are more likely to commit suicide. In addition, people who struggle with alcohol use have a high suicide risk. Suicide and drinking are linked, and it is important to be able to tell when someone who drinks may be at risk of killing themselves.

Article at a Glance:

  • Being drunk makes you more likely to attempt suicide because you have less self-control and often have a lower mood than when you are sober
  • People who struggle with alcohol use have a very high rate of suicide attempts
  • Many people who struggle with alcohol have depression
  • You can help someone with suicidal thoughts by listening without judgment, keeping them safe and supporting them
  • The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available at 1-800-273-8255

Drunk With Suicidal Thoughts

Doctors know that suicide and alcohol use go hand-in-hand. Being drunk plays a role in many suicide attempts. Many people are more suicidal when drunk than when they are sober. Doctors think this happens because being drunk loosens the self-restraint you feel. Drunk people are known to have a hard time weighing the pros and cons of decisions, and finding solutions to problems. Therefore, you may have suicidal thoughts after drinking. When you are sober, even though you may think about suicide, you have the self-control to not do it because you can think through your actions. This control goes away when you are drunk, possibly leading to a higher risk of suicide. Doctors believe that drunk people tend to be more depressed than when they are sober. The combination of these two factors leads to a higher risk of suicide when you are drunk.

Alcoholic With Suicidal Thoughts

People who struggle with alcohol use are at a much higher risk of suicide than other people. Studies have shown that people who have problems with alcohol have a suicide rate up to 10 times higher than others. Forty percent of people who received treatment for a drinking problem report having tried suicide at least once. Men are at a higher risk than women. Doctors think that people struggling with alcohol and thinking about suicide may have a lower risk of suicide if they quit drinking.

There is an even higher risk of suicide in people who struggle with alcohol use if they also have depression. Suicidal alcoholic depression can be deadly. A few different studies found that more than 80% of people who committed suicide have a history of not only alcohol misuse, but also depression. Doctors think it is possible that excessive alcohol use in some people is their way of trying to treat their depression.

How To Help An Alcoholic With Suicidal Thoughts

It can sometimes be hard to know if someone is thinking of suicide. Some of the warning signs that someone is thinking of suicide include if the person:

  • Talks about wanting to die, or talks about suicide
  • Looks into ways to kill themselves, such as buying a gun or looking up websites on how to commit suicide
  • Speaks about feeling like there is no hope in life or no reason to live
  • Talks about living in pain they cannot deal with
  • Says they are a burden to those around them
  • Drinks more alcohol or uses more drugs than normal
  • Acts reckless, anxious, or agitated
  • Has sleep problems
  • Withdraws from those around them
  • Acts angry or talks about wanting revenge
  • Has mood swings

If you believe a loved one is thinking of suicide, it is crucial to seek emergency help as soon as you can. The United States federal government runs the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to help stop suicide. The hotline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

The way you talk to someone thinking about suicide can also be very important. If you are wondering how to help a suicidal alcoholic, some tips include:

  • Be open and direct: ask if they are thinking about suicide
  • Listen without judging, arguing, or acting shocked
  • Show support for the person and show that you are around to help them
  • Don’t promise to keep your conversation secret
  • Remove the means of suicide from the person, such as guns, rope and car keys

Alcohol Suicide Statistics

Alcohol is involved in many suicide attempts. Studies show that about 39% of emergency room visits for suicide attempts involve alcohol mixed with other drugs. Many other attempts end up being successful cases of suicide by alcohol: 22% of deaths by suicide occur in drunk people.

If you or a loved one are struggling to stop drinking, help is available. Contact the professionals at The Recovery Village to learn more about how individualized treatment programs can help you address your addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Drug-Related Suicide Attempts by Middle-[…] Combined with Drugs.” November 12, 2015. Accessed April 21, 2019.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Substance Use and Suicide: a Nexus Requiring a Public Health Approach.” 2016. Accessed April 21, 2019.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Wallet Card.” January 2013. Accessed April 21, 2019.

National Institutes of Health. “How to Help Someone Thinking of Suicide.” National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, December 11, 2018. Accessed April 21, 2019.

Pompili Maurizio, Serafini Gianluca, et al. “Suicidal Behavior and Alcohol Abuse.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, April 2010. Accessed April 21, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.