Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health
Co-Occurring Physical Fighting and Suicide Attempts among U.S. High School Students: Examining Patterns of Early Alcohol Use Initiation and Current Binge Drinking
- Author(s): Swahn, Monica H
- Bossarte, Robert
- Palmier, Jane
- Yao, Huang
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2013.3.15705
Introduction: A growing body of empirical research documents a significant co-occurrence of suicide attempts and interpersonal violence among youth. However, the potential role of early alcohol use initiation and current heavy alcohol use as correlates of this comorbidity has not been examined in a nationally representative sample of high school students.
Methods: We based our analyses on cross-sectional data from the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which includes a nationally representative sample (n=16,410) of high school students in grades 9 through 12 in the United States. Multinomial logistic regression analyses were conducted to test the associations between measures of alcohol use (early alcohol use initiation and heavy drinking) and comorbid suicidal and violent behavior while controlling for potential confounders.
Results: Among high school students, 3.6% reported comorbid physical fighting and suicide attempt in the past year. Early alcohol use (prior to age 13) and heavy drinking (5 or more drinks in a row) were strongly associated with comorbid reports of physical fighting and suicide attempts (Adj. odds ratio [OR]=3.12; 95% confidence interval [CI]:2.49-3.89) and (Adj. OR=3.45; 95%CI:2.63-4.52).
Conclusion: These findings underscore the importance of both early alcohol use initiation and heavy drinking as statistically significant correlates of comorbid fighting and suicide attempts among youth. While future research is needed to determine the temporal ordering between problem drinking and violent or suicidal behaviors, existing prevention programs may benefit from including components aimed at reducing and delaying alcohol use. [West J Emerg Med. 2013;14(4):341–346.]