Early Age of Alcohol Initiation and its Association with Suicidal Behaviors

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Objective: The relationship between alcohol use and suicidal behaviors is well-accepted, but less is known about the contribution of its early initiation. This study was designed to test the association of early alcohol initiation versus later initiation with suicidal ideation and attempt in an ethnically diverse sample. Methods: The Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (CPES), 2001-2003 (n = 20,013), database was used. A total of 13,867 participants were selected included 56.9% females and 43.1% males. Race and ethnicity were reported as 28.8% non-Hispanic White, 39.1% Black, 20.3% Latino, and 11.9% Asian. Logistic regression analyses tested the associations between early (< =14 years) and later (> =15) age alcohol initiation with suicide ideation and attempts. Alcohol initiation was indexed by self-report of the first time that any alcohol product was consumed. Potential confounders were controlled. Results: Early alcohol initiation was associated with higher odds (AOR = 3.64, 95% CI [2.51, 5.28]) of suicide ideation as compared with adults who had initiated > = age 15 (AOR = 2.11, 95% CI [1.46, 3.04]). Early age initiation was also associated with higher odds (AOR = 3.81, 95% CI [2.02, 7.18]) of lifetime suicide attempt versus later age initiators (AOR = 2.03, 95% CI [1.08, 3.79]). Significant differences were found between early and later age of initiation. Conclusion: Early age of alcohol initiation has profoundly increased odds of suicide ideation or attempt. It is critical that effective prevention programs for children and their caregivers be implemented to prevent or delay alcohol initiation and lessen the risk for future suicidal behaviors.