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Alcoholics more inclined to commit suicide: poll

About 40 percent of reformed alcoholics wanted to commit suicide in the past, and about 20 percent actually tried to do so, according to a survey by a national suicide prevention center.

The center conducted a comprehensive survey on former alcoholics between April and June this year. The percentage of former alcoholics who had wanted to commit suicide was about double that of other respondents. According to a survey on attitudes among the general public conducted by the Cabinet Office carried last year, 19 percent of respondents said they had wanted to commit suicide at some point.

A staff member of the center said: “It was confirmed that excess drinking was one of the risk factors of suicide. It’s important to support these people as a measure for preventing suicide.”

The survey was conducted on 5,422 members of Zennihon Danshu Renmei (Zendanren), a national self-help organization for people who try to recover from alcohol addiction. It was conducted through an anonymous questionnaire and 4,625 people, or 85 percent, answered. They consisted of 4,067 men, 521 women and 37 people who did not reveal their gender. The average age of the respondents was 60, and 57 percent of them have been members of the organization for more than five years.

According to the survey, 1,878 people, or 41 percent, answered they had seriously thought about committing suicide. Twenty-three percent answered they had planned their suicide and 20 percent answered they had actually taken action. Nearly 70 percent of those who gave such answers said the experiences occurred before they joined the organization.

Masato Akazawa, a researcher who was in charge of the survey, listed several reasons that alcohol addiction raises the suicide risk:

— Alcohol addiction leads to unemployment and separation from family.

— Alcohol abuse leads to or exacerbates depression.

— Alcohol use clouds judgment and lowers inhibitions against impulsive action.

“It is important to acknowledge that alcohol itself is a problem. Excess drinking has bad effects not only on one’s body but also one’s mental health,” Akazawa said.

He said that drinking to the extent the habit becomes detrimental to daily life is a sign of alcoholism.

“In that case, it is necessary to visit a medical institution exclusively for alcoholics or consult Alcoholics Anonymous,” he said.

According to the Healthy Japan 21 basic guidelines for health measures set by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the maximum recommended amount of pure alcohol is 20 milliliters a day, which is equivalent to about 180 milliliters of sake or 500 milliliters of beer.

source: Asia News

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