Alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of suicide and this increase may be partially due to insomnia symptoms, a new study has found.
The study is the first to show that insomnia symptoms mediate the relationship between alcohol use and suicide risk, and that this mediation is moderated by gender, researchers said.
The study involved 375 undergraduate students at a large, public university in the southeastern US. They completed an online questionnaire that examined insomnia symptoms, nightmares, alcohol use and suicide risk.
Researchers found that alcohol use was significantly associated with suicide risk among women.
However, further analysis showed that insomnia symptoms explained a significant proportion of the relationship between alcohol and suicide risk.
For men, there was no direct effect of alcohol use on suicide risk, but there was a significant indirect effect of alcohol use increasing suicide risk through insomnia symptoms.
“These results are important as they help demonstrate that alcohol use is associated with an increase in suicide risk, and that this increase may be partially due to insomnia symptoms,” said principal investigator Michael Nadorff, assistant professor at Mississippi State University in Starkville.
“By better understanding this relationship, and the mechanisms associated with increased risk, we can better design interventions to reduce suicide risk,” Nadorff said.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.