Blood Alcohol Concentrations in Suicide and Motor Vehicle Crash Decedents Ages 18 to 54

Kenneth R. Conner, Sarah Lathrop, Raul Caetano, Vincent Silenzio, Kurt B. Nolte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Using postmortem data, we examined the hypotheses that high (and very high) blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) are more common among motor vehicle crash decedents (MVCs) than among suicide decedents, whereas low alcohol levels are more common among suicides. Methods: We examined BAC in 224 suicide decedents and 166 MVCs ages 18 to 54 in the state of New Mexico in 2012. Comparisons between the groups were made based on differing BAC levels using 0.080 g/dl categories including low (0.001 to 0.079 g/dl), high (0.080 to 0.159 g/dl), and very high BAC (≥0.160 g/dl), and based on 0.100 g/dl categories including low (0.001 to 0.099 g/dl), high (0.100 to 0.199 g/dl), and very high BAC (≥0.200 g/dl), with these groups compared with a no-alcohol reference (0.000 g/dl) in separate analyses. Multivariate logistic regressions compared suicides with MVCs that adjusted for age, sex, and race/ethnicity. Results: Support for the hypothesis that suicides are more likely to have a low BAC level was supported in the analysis using the 0.100 g/dl categorizations. Neither analysis supported the hypothesis that MVCs are more likely to have high (or very high) BACs compared with suicides. Among both injury groups with positive BACs, low BACs were least common. Conclusions: Low BAC levels may be more likely to be observed among suicides compared with MVCs, a possible reflection of the more varied role that alcohol plays in suicide compared with MVC. Nonetheless, high (and very high) BAC is the predominant scenario in both suicides and MVCs with positive BAC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)772-775
Number of pages4
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Blood Alcohol Concentration
  • Motor Vehicle Crash
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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