Double-edged role of alcohol in suicidal talk


YOUNG MEN may be more likely to admit to thoughts of suicide when under the influence of alcohol, research from suicide prevention charity 3TS (Turn the Tide of Suicide) has found.

However while drink may help people reveal their emotional state, admissions of depression or suicidal thoughts may be dismissed as “drunk talk” by peers, the research indicated.

The research was part of a study Young Irish Male Perspectives on Depression and Peer Suicide carried out over three years for the Suicide Research Programme at UCD and St Vincent’s University Hospital, and funded by 3TS.

Young Irish men who had lost a friend to suicide in recent years were interviewed as part of the research. The study’s author, Lorna Sweeney, said young men’s friendship groups were often “all-male” and discussion of emotional issues was rare.

“The alcohol context was identified as an important avenue for disclosure of concerns, emotions and suicidal thinking in the friendships of young Irish males; but disclosure within this context was also found to reduce perception of risk in the individual,” she said.

3TS chairman Noel Smyth has urged friends to be particularly vigilant during Christmas celebrations to any disclosures of depressive or suicidal feelings. “In light of these findings, we would ask people to be more aware of disclosures or problems shared by friends when drinking together.”