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A dangerous cocktail: Alcohol consumption increases suicidal ideations among problem gamblers in the general population

Abstract

The current research examined whether alcohol consumption exacerbates suicidal ideations among gamblers in the general population. While prior research suggests problem gambling severity and excessive alcohol consumption are unique predictors of suicidal behaviors, the extant literature as almost exclusively focused on gamblers in treatment. This represents a significant gap in the literature as less than 10% of gamblers seek treatment. Furthermore, gamblers in treatment are not representative of gamblers in the general population, precluding a simple generalization of research findings. We address this gap using data obtained from the Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 4.1) — a cross-sectional national survey that assesses health-related information among the Canadian population. To this end, we conducted a moderation analysis with problem gambling severity as the independent variable, weekly alcohol consumption as the moderator variable and suicidal ideations (in the past 12 months) as the dependent variable. The results found that alcohol consumption alone did not reliably predict suicidal ideation among gamblers who did not gamble problematically. However, as predicted, the odds of suicidal ideation were greatest among problem gamblers who frequently consumed alcohol. Thus, it may behoove policy makers to re-visit the availability of alcohol in gambling venues. Moreover, responsible gambling-oriented education initiatives may be advanced by informing gamblers about the increased risk of suicidal ideations when problematic gambling is combined with frequent alcohol consumption.

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