Predictors of suicide attempts in male UK gamblers seeking residential treatment

Disordered gambling can have serious negative consequences for the individual and those around them. Previous research has indicated that disordered gamblers are at an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, ideation and attempts. The current study sought to utilise data from a clinical sample to identify factors that are associated with prior suicide attempts.

Methods

The sample included 621 patients entering a gambling-specific residential facility in the UK. A series of Chi-Square analyses and binary logistic regressions were run to identify clinical and sociodemographic variables associated with suicide attempts.

Results

Of the 20 variables analysed using Chi-square statistics, five were significantly associated with the outcome variable (lifetime attempted suicide): loss of family relationships, loss of home, prior depression, prior suicidal thoughts, and medication use. Regression analysis showed that individuals were more likely to have reported suicide attempts if they had experienced loss of family relationships (1.65 times), loss of a home (1.87 times), prior depression (3.2 times), prior suicidal thoughts (6.14 times), or were taking medication (1.95 times) compared to those not reporting such individual events.

Conclusions

Disordered gamblers are vulnerable to suicide; a number of factors have been identified in the current study that predict an increased likelihood of attempted suicide. The factors mainly revolve around loss: not financial loss, but rather disintegration of an individual’s support network and deterioration in the individual’s mental health. Findings indicate that isolation and negative affect associated with gambling are most influential in attempted suicide and should therefore be more strongly considered when creating and providing the legislative, educational and treatment environments for those experiencing gambling related harm.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Steve Sharman, University of East London, School of Psychology and Kings College London, National Addictions Centre

Raegan Murphy, University College Cork, School of Applied Psychology

John Turner, University of East London, School of Psychology

Amanda Roberts, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology