Alcohol alone can lead to deadly illnesses when abused, much more so if coupled with the use of cocaine. Simultaneous usage of alcohol and cocaine is linked to committing suicide, according to a new research.

The study conducted by the team of Sarah Arias, assistant professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior in Alpert Medical School, Brown University, found that simultaneous use of cocaine and alcohol increases risk of attempting suicide.

Researchers looked into a group of 874 women and men patients from one of the eight suicide emergency departments across the country from 2010 to 2012. The participants received standard medical care and reported to have attempted suicide or to have had thoughts of committing suicide while they had their initial emergency department visit.

The team sought to find out whether or not this group of subjects had another suicide attempt the following year since their first emergency department visit. It turned out that 195 of them attempted suicide at least once.

"One unexpected finding was that, when examined independently, alcohol use had no significant association and cocaine use had a borderline significant association," said Arias.

While some of the patients reported to have misused other substances such as stimulants, pain killers, tranquilizers and marijuana, Arias' team found that cocaine and alcohol had a greater association with risks of attempting suicide.

Among the patients, 298 of them abuse alcohol, 72 use cocaine and 41 of them simultaneously use alcohol and cocaine. People who use both had 2.4 times higher chance of committing suicide as compared to other patients included in the study.

"Patients who have potentially co-morbid alcohol and cocaine use may be at a higher risk. Findings like these can be useful for informing suicide risk assessment," Arias said.

Researchers also found that substance misuse is not likely to be a sign of suicide attempts among women and whites. Women, however, showed higher risk of committing suicide as compared to men, regardless of whether or not they are involved in substance abuse.

"We're on our way to trying to identify factors that can be used to better assess and identify people who are at risk for suicide, and ultimately I think this is a step in the right direction to get a better picture," said Arias.

The study only reports the observations of  cocaine and alcohol-use linked to suicide attempts, it did not say that substance abuse causes suicide attempts.

The findings of the study was published in the journal Crisis.

Photo: Raven Hodge | Flickr

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