Substance Use and Suicidal Behaviors Among Young Adults

Sara Markowitz, Pinka Chatterji, Robert Kaestner, Dhaval Dave

NBER Working Paper No. 8810
Issued in February 2002
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Economics

The purpose of this paper is to examine the causal impact of alcohol and illicit drug use on suicidal behaviors among college students. Every year, more American youth die from suicide than from all leading natural causes of death combined. Substance use has been identified as a leading risk factor in suicidal behaviors. We use instrumental variables to estimate a structural model of suicidal thoughts and attempts. A reduced form equation is also estimated which directly relates the determinants of alcohol and drug use to suicidal behaviors. Data come from the Core Institute's Alcohol and Drug Surveys of College Students. The results are consistent with a causal mechanism from alcohol and illicit drug consumption to suicide thoughts and attempts.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8810

Published: Chatterji, Pinka, Dhaval Dave, Robert Kaestner and Sara Markowitz. “Alcohol Abuse and Suicide Attempts Among Youth—Correlation or Causation?” Economics and Human Biology 2, 2 (2004): 159-180.

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