Demographics of suicide victims in Sweden in relation to their blood-alcohol concentration and the circumstances and manner of death
2010 (English)In: FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL, ISSN 0379-0738, Vol. 198, no 1-3, 17-22 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Specimens of blood and other body fluids were obtained at autopsy from all deaths in Sweden classified as suicide covering a 10-year period (N = 11,441 cases). The mean age (+/- standard deviation, SD) of the victims was 51.3 +/- 18.8 years witha clear predominance of males 71%(mean age 51.3 +/- 18.8 years) compared with 29% females (mean age 51.4 +/- 18.9 years). The concentration of ethanol in blood samples was determined in duplicate by headspace gas chromatography and a mean blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.1 g/L (10 mg/100 mL) was the cut-off used to identify ethanol positive cases. The suicides were coded (ICD-9) as self-poisonings (N = 2462, 22%), hanging (N = 4474, 39%), asphyxia by gas (N = 509, 4.4%), drowning (N = 803, 7.0%), gun shot (N = 1307, 11.4%), fall from height (N = 632, 5.5%), self-inflicted cuts or sharp-force injury (N = 363, 3.1%) and miscellaneous ways (N = 891, 7.8%). On average 34% of all suicide victims in Sweden had consumed alcohol before death, 36% of the males and 31% of the females had a positive BAC. The mean (median) concentration of alcohol in femoral blood for men was 1.34 g/L (1.3 g/L) compared with 1.25 g/L (1.1 g/L) for women. Many victims were heavily intoxicated and the 90th percentiles of the BAC distributions ranged from 2.3 to 2.8 g/L depending on manner of death. Elevated blood-alcohol was most prevalent in poisoning deaths (45%) and gas asphyxia (51%) and least prevalent in falls from height (19%) and sharp-force injury (18%). Toxicological analysis for presence of drugs other than alcohol showed a predominance of paracetamol, SSRI antidepressants, anti-psychotics, sedative-hypnotics, and centrally acting opioids. A host of psycho-social factors drive a person to commit suicide and one of the catalysts is over-consumption of alcohol and acute alcohol intoxication. Heavy drinking leads to a loss of inhibitions, impulsive behaviour, poor judgment and a tendency to take risks, all of which might increase the propensity of predisposed individuals to take their own lives.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam. , 2010. Vol. 198, no 1-3, 17-22 p.
Alcohol, Blood, Drugs, Intoxication, Drunkenness, Self-harm, Suicide
National CategoryMedical and Health Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-56301DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.12.015ISI: 000276982600005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-56301DiVA: diva2:318304