Attempted suicide and alcoholism in bipolar disorder: Clinical and familial relationships

J. B. Potash, H. S. Kane, Y. F. Chiu, S. G. Simpson, D. F. MacKinnon, M. G. McInnis, F. J. McMahon, Jr De Paulo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examined the clinical and familial relationships between comorbid alcoholism and attempted suicide in affectively ill relatives of probands with bipolar I disorder. Method: In 71 families ascertained for a genetic linkage study, 337 subjects with major affective disorder were assessed by using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia - Lifetime Version. Results: Subjects with bipolar disorder and alcoholism had a 38.4% lifetime rate of attempted suicide, whereas those without alcoholism had a 21.7% rate. Attempted suicide among subjects with bipolar disorder and alcoholism clustered in a subset of seven families. Families with alcoholic and suicidal probands had a 40.7% rate of attempted suicide in first-degree relatives with bipolar disorder, whereas other families had a 19.0% rate. Conclusions: Comorbid alcoholism was associated with a higher rate of attempted suicide among family members with bipolar disorder. Attempted suicide and alcoholism clustered in a subset of families. These relationships may have a genetic origin and may be mediated by intoxication, mixed states, and/or temperamental instability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2048-2050
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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