Sarah Ledden

Sarah Ledden is a PhD candidate in Psychiatric Epidemiology based at the Division of Psychiatry at University College London. Her research explores the association between alcohol use and suicide and self-harming behaviours in the general population. Sarah has a background in psychology and holds an MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences from UCL.


Alcohol use and its association with suicide attempt, suicidal thought, and self-harm in two successive nationally representative English household samples


Aims: Alcohol use is a risk factor for suicidal behaviour, yet the nature of the association is unclear. We investigated the association between specific domains of harmful alcohol use and suicide attempt, suicidal thoughts, and non-suicidal self-harm in a general population sample.

Design: Two successive national cross-sectional household surveys

Setting: England

Participants: 14,949 adults aged 16+ years, recruited from general population private households for the 2007 and 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys.

Measurements: We measured alcohol use using the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT). Self-reported past year suicide attempt, suicidal thoughts, and non-suicidal self-harm were measured using the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised. Specific domains of alcohol use were derived from relevant AUDIT items.

Findings: We found a linear association between total AUDIT score and the three outcomes. Dependence symptoms, harmful effects of alcohol use, and daily or almost daily binge drinking were associated with increased odds of suicidal behaviour. Average weekly alcohol consumption was not associated with outcomes.

Conclusions: We found evidence of a linear association between AUDIT score and suicide-related outcomes in a representative English general population sample. Longitudinal research is needed to further understand these relationships.

Funding: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research