Emergency Department patients with suicide risk: Differences in care by acute alcohol use

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine; Department of Psychiatry; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Emergency Medicine | Health Services Administration | Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


OBJECTIVE: To compare Emergency Department (ED) care of suicidal patients with and without documented acute alcohol use. METHODS: Retrospective chart review of randomly sampled patient visits (n=800; January 2014 to December 2015) at an urban ED with universal screening for suicide risk. Eligible visits were by adults (18+ years) who screened positive for suicide risk at the ED visit (i.e., suicidal ideation in past two weeks or suicide attempt in past six months). Analyses compared those with and without documentation of acute alcohol use. RESULTS: Among these patients with suicide risk, 19% had documented acute alcohol use (versus 43% with no use and 38% without documentation); individuals with acute alcohol use were more often male and aged 35-59years. Overall, 62% were evaluated by a mental health professional in the ED. Individuals with acute alcohol use were significantly less likely (vs those without use) to be evaluated by a mental health professional in the ED (odds ratio 0.49, 95%CI 0.28-0.87) after adjustment for age, recent suicide ideation, current suicide plan, self-harm as a chief complaint, contact with family, and ED disposition. CONCLUSIONS: Although alcohol use can increase suicide risk, ED patients with acute use appear to receive less thorough suicide risk assessments.


Alcohol, Emergency Department, Suicide

DOI of Published Version



Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2018 Sep 25. pii: S0163-8343(18)30030-6. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2018.09.010. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

General hospital psychiatry

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID