Drinking to cope as a statistical mediator in the relationship of suicidal ideation and alcohol outcomes among underage college drinkers
Etiological models of alcohol use that highlight the role of negative affect and depression have not been applied to the association of suicidality and alcohol use. The authors examined whether a motivational model of alcohol use could be applied to understand the relationship between suicidal ideation and alcohol outcomes in a sample of underage college drinkers who had a history of passive suicidal ideation (n = 91). In this cross-sectional study, regression analyses were conducted to examine whether drinking to cope with negative affect statistically mediated or was an intervening variable in the association between suicidal ideation and alcohol outcomes. Results revealed that drinking to cope was a significant intervening variable in the relationships between suicidal ideation and alcohol consumption, heavy episodic drinking, and alcohol problems, even while controlling for depression. These results suggest that the relationship between suicidal ideation and alcohol outcomes may be due to individuals using alcohol to regulate or escape the distress associated with suicidal ideation. Consideration of alcohol-related models can improve the conceptualization of research on suicidality and alcohol use.