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The Impact of Driving Under the Influence Citations on Suicide

Thu, Nov 19, 7:15 to 8:15pm, Hilton, International Ballroom Center, Concourse Level

Abstract

In 2013, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Many factors related to understanding the motivations for suicide, and enhancing prevention and intervention efforts, have been investigated. One factor that has received limited attention is the role of legal issues as a precipitant in suicide, specifically receiving a driving under the influence (DUI) citation. Coroner’s reports providing extensive information related to 1285 suicides, 175 with notes, were examined. In 29 cases, receiving a DUI was an important part of the motivation for the suicide, to escape. In order to be identified as someone who received a DUI, this fact had to be in their suicide notes or in the reports so these numbers likely underestimate the magnitude of the problem. Ninety percent were men, who spoke of “messing things up” and being out of options in their notes. One victim was a judge. Almost half killed themselves using guns, followed by hanging then overdose. None committed murder-suicide and only two killed themselves in front of someone. Patterns related to these suicides, and why DUIs are a significant risk factor, will be discussed as well as how criminal justice personnel can help with prevention and intervention.

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