Suicide Attempts Among Veterans Seeking Treatment for Pathological Gambling
J Clin Psychiatry 2003;64(9):1031-1038
© Copyright 2016 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Background: There is little information in the
scientific literature regarding the suicide attempts of
pathological gamblers, even though studies of problem gamblers
have found that completed suicide, suicide attempts, and suicidal
ideation are common outcomes related to gambling behavior. There
has been no attempt in previous studies to identify the
contributions of comorbid conditions, such as substance abuse, to
the suicide attempts of pathological gamblers.
Method: A retrospective chart review was
completed for all consecutive admissions (N = 114) to the
Gambling Treatment Program of the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center
over a 12-month period (September 2000-September 2001). All
subjects met DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling. Relevant
information was obtained from the admission history and physical
examination, as well as a variety of self-report questionnaires
and structured instruments.
Results: Forty-five patients (39.5%) reported
that they had made a suicide attempt at some time in their lives.
The most common method was overdose. Sixty-four percent of
attempters reported that their most recent attempt was related to
gambling. Forty-two percent of gamblers with a history of alcohol
dependence and 58.8% of those with a history of drug dependence
had a history of suicide attempts. Mean impulsivity scores
differentiated suicide attempters from nonattempters among
gamblers with a history of drug and/or alcohol dependence.
Severity of psychiatric symptoms and family problems on admission
was related to a history of suicide attempts.
Conclusion: Pathological gamblers have high
rates of attempted suicide. They are highly impulsive and suffer
from high rates of comorbid psychiatric conditions as well as
social disruptions. A combination of these risk factors very
likely contributes to their potential for suicidal behavior.