Alcohol is a factor in 45 per cent of all suicides and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to its influence, according to a leading expert on the subject.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of suicides in Europe in the 15- to 24-year-old age group, and according to Dr John Connolly, co-founder of the Irish Association of Suicidology, young people are particularly at risk when alcohol is involved.
Dr Connolly told The Mayo News that teenage suicide tends to be a more impulsive act, and that alcohol can lead to an increase in that impulsivity.
“Alcohol is implicated in up to 45 per cent of all suicides,” he explained. “It blinds people’s judgement and [causes them to] do things that are uncharacteristic and unusual for them. It can increase a person’s depression, which is a big factor in suicide. Teenagers tend to be far more impulsive than older people, who tend to plan things more … Alcohol can increase that impulsiveness, there is no doubt about that,” he said.
Dr Connolly feels that parents and guardians should be aware of young people’s impulsive nature and try to support them.
He also feels that the binge drinking culture in Ireland has more of an effect on teenagers than adults, and that access to alcohol is too easy for young people. “Alcohol is widely available to young people. I do know that a developing brain deals with alcohol in a different way to mature adult brains … There is a particular culture here to go out and get smashed rather than have a sociable drink.”
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