Alcohol ‘risk factor’ for suicide – time to move on ‘overdue’ legislation, says charity

For Immediate Release: World Suicide Prevention Day September 10th, 2009

Alcohol Action Ireland – the national charity for alcohol-related issues – is calling on the Government to act on overdue legislation such as the Sale of Alcohol Bill in order to reduce young people’s access to alcohol as well as introducing a minimum price “floor” so that alcohol cannot be sold at cut price.

  Speaking on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day, Alcohol Action Ireland Director Cliona Murphy said: “Suicide is a tragic and complex phenomenon but that complexity should not obscure the very real link between alcohol and suicide.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death in young Irish adults – especially young men – and patterns of problem drinking in Ireland play a major role. Irish young people experience some of the highest rates of drunkenness in Europe.

“We now have a situation where alcohol is being sold at prices as low as at 50c a unit – that means a woman could reach her low risk drinking limit on less that €7 a week and a man for around €12. Teenagers are even more vulnerable due to the effects of alcohol, physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Alcohol has been identified as one of the highest risk factors for suicide and contributes to suicide in the following ways:  

  • Alcohol can facilitate suicide by increasing impulsivity, changing mood and deepening depression
  • Although alcohol can initially produce a euphoric effect, it can lead to a significant drop in mood later that night or within the following days, a drop which can sometimes be coupled with feelings of hopelessness. When some-one is already experiencing a degree of depression, the fall in mood can lead to suicidal ideas
  • Suicide can take place after just one drinking session. A person doesn’t have to be a heavy drinker or even a regular drinker: just one occasion of heavy drinking can reduce inhibitions enough to act on suicidal thoughts, to act in a way you might not have had you been sober
  • In addition, ongoing abuse of alcohol is in itself a major contributory factor in depression and suicidal behaviour      




For more information, please contact:

Jo Fox, Alcohol Action Ireland’s Communications Officer on  01-  8780610 or Alcohol Action Ireland Director  Cliona Murphy  on 087 219 5723