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Problem Gamblers Have Increased Risk of Suicide, Personality Disorders

A new study from Montreal has found that pathological gamblers are more likely to commit suicide, and also tend to suffer from personality disorders. These findings could help develop improved suicide prevention programs.

Richard Boyer, the study’s co-author and a professor at Université de Montréal, said that pathological gamblers account for five percent of all suicides. According to the World Health Organization, suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the Western world. These statistics prompted the researchers to study the difference between gamblers and non-gamblers in regard to suicide.

The study looked at 122 suicides between 2006 and 2009, and 49 of them were pathological gamblers. Alain Lesage, also from the Université de Montréal, said that by studying coroner’s files and interviewing family and friends of the deceased, the researchers found that gamblers who committed suicide were twice as likely to have personality disorders as other suicide victims.

Boyer said that the personality disorders seem to significantly increase the risk of suicide among compulsive gamblers. Depression can lead to alcohol and drug consumption, which can lead to financial and health problems, which can worsen depression.

The study also found that gamblers who committed suicide were three times less likely to have consulted a doctor or mental health professional in the year before their death. Boyer said that this is likely because gamblers believe their problems will solve themselves. They think the depression or substance abuse problems are due to their gambling, so they seek solace in gambling rather than seeking the help of a professional.

Boyer concluded that health professionals and friends and family should pay more attention to signs of suicide thoughts among pathological gamblers. Diagnosing pathological gambling and depression early can help save lives.

Source: Science Daily, Dealt a Bad Hand: Pathological Gamblers Are Also at Risk for Mental Health Disorders, November 23, 2010

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