Alcohol use, cognitive function and suicide

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Etiological models for alcohol use disorders have traditionally proposed trait and cognitive explanations for initiation, maintenance, and dependence. Numerous studies have shown that heavy drinkers and subjects suffering from alcohol dependence have reduced performance on neurocognitive tests compared with controls. Alcohol dependence is an important risk factor for suicidal behavior. The large population of individuals with alcohol dependence, the relative frequency of suicides and suiciderelated behaviors in this population, and the devastating effects of attempted and completed suicides on individuals, families, and society make this an important area for research. Data suggest that neuropsychological dysfunction may play a role in determining risk for suicidal acts. Suicide attempters have been characterized as "cognitively rigid" on the basis of self-ratings and performance on mental flexibility tasks. Depressed subjects with a history of high-lethality suicide attempts exhibited deficits in executive functioning that were independent of deficits associated with depression alone. Alcohol use disorders are associated with both cognitive impairment and suicidal behavior. It is possible that cognitive abnormalities contribute to increased suicidality in individuals with alcohol use disorders. Future studies of the role of cognitive abnormalities in the pathophysiology of suicidal behavior are merited.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationForensic Psychiatry
Subtitle of host publicationA Public Health Perspective
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781634833462
ISBN (Print)9781634833394
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015


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