Intoxication, Criminal Offences and Suicide Attempts in a Group of South African Problem Drinkers
South African Medical Association Health and Medical Publishing Group
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology
Background. Incidence rates of crime and alcohol abuse in South Aftica are unacceptably high, research suggests a relationship between alcohol and both crime and suicide. This study aims to add to the information base on this topic in South Africa. Methods. This is a cross-sectional record study of criminal offences and suicide attempts in 269 admissions to an alcohol rehabilitation unit the Western Cape, Types of criminal offences and suicide attempts are described Relationships are sought between crime, violent crime and soicide attempts on the one hand, and demographic and alcohol-related variables on the other. Results. One hundred and four subjects (39%) had criminal convictions, the majority of which were committed while the subjects were intoxicated. The commonest alcoholrelated crimes were driving-related (17%, of subjects) and crimes of violence (15%). Male gender, younger age at initiation of drinking, and earlier onset of problent drinking were significantly associated with criminal behaviour. Violent crime was associated with earlier onset of initial, regular and problem drinking, and maternal alcohol abuse. Suicide attempts (24% of subjects) were associated with female gender, white racial group, not being in a marital relationship, younger current age and early age of problem drinking Conclusions, There was an association between intoodcation and bodt violent crime and suicide attempts. The importance of population studies and the need for intervention programmes almed at teenagers who are drinking, are emphasised.