Type of gambling as an independent risk factor for suicidal events in pathological gamblers

Abstract

Individuals with pathological gambling have an increased risk for suicidal events. Additionally, the prevalence of comorbid psychiatric disorders is high among pathological gamblers. This study analyzes whether the type of gambling is associated with suicidal events in pathological gamblers independently from comorbidity. Participants were recruited in 4 different ways: via random telephone sample from the general population, via individual invitation for study participation in gambling locations, through various media and the distribution of a leaflet in various settings, and via inpatient treatment facilities for pathological gambling. The final sample included 442 participants with a lifetime diagnosis of pathological gambling. A standardized clinical interview was conducted. High financial losses were associated with suicidal events (odds ratio [OR] = 1.94, 95% 95% confidence interval [CI], [1.11, 3.37]), as were mood disorders (OR = 7.70, 95% CI, [4.44, 13.37]) and female gender (OR = 2.52, 95% CI, [1.20, 5.28]). Gambling on electronic gambling machines in gambling halls or bars was associated with increased odds of suicidal events (OR = 2.94, 95% CI, [1.38, 6.24]). Other types of gambling, such as casino games or betting on sports, or the number of DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling were not associated independently with suicidal events. Our findings suggest that gambling on electronic gambling machines in gambling halls or bars is associated with suicidal events in pathological gamblers independently of comorbidity. This result shows that the type of gambling needs to be considered as a relevant factor in gambling research.

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