Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers

Abstract

This study assessed rates and correlates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in individuals seeking treatment for pathological gambling. At intake to gambling treatment programs, 342 pathological gamblers completed the Addiction Severity Index and the South Oaks Gambling Screen. Participants were categorized into three groups: no suicidal ideation (N = 175, 51%), suicidal ideation alone (N = 109, 32%), and suicide attempters (N = 58, 17%). After controlling for gender, age, treatment site, and substance abuse treatment histories, differences among the groups emerged in terms of severity of psychiatric, social/family, and gambling problems. Compared with nonsuicidal gamblers, those with suicidal ideation suffered from more psychiatric symptoms, were less satisfied with their living situations, and experienced more days of conflict in the month before entering gambling treatment. Compared with pathological gamblers with no history of suicidal ideation, those with suicidal ideation spent more money gambling in the month before entering treatment, reported greater cravings for gambling, and had higher South Oaks Gambling Screen scores. These data confirm other reports of high rates of suicidality in pathological gamblers and may suggest the need for more intensive and focused treatments in pathological gamblers with suicidality.

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