Journal Article

Evaluating the impact of alcohol policy on suicide mortality: a sex-specific time-series analysis for Lithuania

Lange, S., Jiang, H., Štelemėkas, M., Tran, A., Cherpitel, C., Giesbrecht, N., Goštautaitė Midttun, N., Jasilionis, D., Kaplan, M. S., Manthey, J., Xuan, Z., Rehm, J.
Archives of Suicide Research, 1–14 (2021)


Objective: It is reasonable to believe that the alcohol policy environment can impact the suicide mortality rates in a given country, considering the well-known link between alcohol use and death by suicide. The current literature, albeit limited, suggests that an increase in alcohol taxation may result in a decrease in deaths by suicide and that the effect is sex-specific. Therefore, the objective of the current study was to test the impact of three alcohol control policy enactments (in 2008, 2017, and 2018) on suicide mortality among adults 25–74 years of age in Lithuania, by sex.
Methods: To estimate the unique impact of three alcohol control policies, we conducted interrupted time-series analyses by employing a generalized additive mixed model on monthly sex-specific age-standardized suicide mortality rates from January 2001 to December 2018.
Results: Analyses showed a significant impact of the 2017 (p = 0.016) alcohol control policy on suicide mortality for men only. Specifically, we estimated that in the year following the 2017 policy enactment, approximately 57 (95% CI: 9–107) deaths by suicide were prevented among men, 25–74 years of age. The three policy enactments tested were not found to significantly impact the suicide mortality rate among women.
Conclusion: Alcohol control policies involving pricing, which result in a notable decrease in alcohol affordability, could be a cost-effective indirect suicide prevention mechanism in not only countries of the former Soviet Union, but in other high-income countries with a comparable health care system to that in Lithuania.

Keywords: Lithuania, alcoholism, health policy, suicide, time series
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.