Recent alcohol intake and suicidality — a neuropsychological perspective

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/BF03168983

Cite this article as:
O’Connell, H. & Lawlor, B.A. Ir J Med Sci (2005) 174: 51. doi:10.1007/BF03168983



Alcohol use disorders and suicidal behaviours are among the most prevalent and damaging of all psychiatric phenomena in Ireland and worldwide. Furthermore, alcohol use both chronic and acute has long been identified as a potent risk factor for suicidal behaviour.


In this paper, the authors review the observational and experimental evidence for the acute neuropsychological effects of alcohol intake on suicidal ideation and behaviour.


A selective review of the literature was conducted, using the PubMed database. Search terms employed included ‘alcohol’, ‘suicide’, ‘binge’ and ‘acute alcohol intake’.


Cognitive mechanisms implicated include alcohol-induced deficits in attention-allocation, prospective cognition, autobiographical memory and disinhibition. Emotional mechanisms include alcohol-induced dysphoria, depression and aggression.


This paper serves to highlight the importance of identifying and tackling acute alcohol intake and binge drinking as a risk factor for suicidal behaviour.

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mercer’s Institute for Research on AgeingSt. James’s HospitalDublin 8