Smoke? You May Be More Likely to Commit Suicide

Here's another reason to give up smoking.  It may make you want to commit suicide.

Seriously, a new study has found that smoking may contribute to suicide risk.

Cigarette smokers are more likely to commit suicide than people who don’t smoke, studies have shown.  In the past, this used to be attributed to the fact that many people with psychiatric illnesses, smoke, and they, of course, may be more prone to suicide.  But new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis finds that smoking itself may increase suicide risk and that policies to limit smoking reduce suicide rates.

 The study reports that suicide rates declined up to 15 percent, relative to the national average, in states that implemented higher taxes on cigarettes and stricter policies to limit smoking in public places.

“Our analysis showed that each dollar increase in cigarette taxes was associated with a 10 percent decrease in suicide risk,” said author Richard A. Grucza, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry. “Indoor smoking bans also were associated with risk reductions.”


From 1990 to 2004, states that adopted aggressive tobacco-control policies saw their suicide rates decrease, compared with the national average, the study found.

The opposite was true in states with lower cigarette taxes and more lax policies toward smoking in public. In those states, suicide rates increased up to 6 percent, relative to the national average, during the same time period. From 1990 to 2004, the average annual suicide rate was about 14 deaths for every 100,000 people.

“States started raising their cigarette taxes, first as a way to raise revenue but then also as a way to improve public health,” Grucza explained at newswise.com. “Higher taxes and more restrictive smoking policies are well-known ways of getting people to smoke less. So it set a natural experiment, which shows that the states with more aggressive policies also had lower rates of smoking. The next thing we wanted to learn was whether those states experienced any changes in suicide rates, relative to the states that didn’t implement these policies as aggressively.”

Using statistical methods, comparing rates of suicide in states with stricter tobacco policies to rates in states with more lenient laws and lower taxes,and whether people who had committed suicide were likely to have smoked, they learned that suicide risk among people most likely to smoke was associated with policies related to tobacco taxes and smoking restrictions.

“If you’re not a smoker, or not likely ever to become a smoker, then your suicide risk shouldn’t be influenced by tobacco policies,” Grucza said. “So the fact that we saw this influence among people who likely were smokers provides additional support for our idea that smoking itself is linked to suicide, rather than some other factor related to policy.”



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