Alcohol may be involved in as many as one-third of U.S. suicides, federal researchers reported on Thursday.

Test results from suicide victims in 13 states showed that 33.3 percent had alcohol in their blood, and 16.4 percent had opiates, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its weekly report on death and disease.

"These results underscore the need to continue monitoring toxicology test results of suicide victims, which might identify patterns of substance use that can help guide development of effective suicide interventions," the team at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control wrote.

Just as many suicide victims had alcohol or other drugs in their systems when they were suspected of using the drugs to kill themselves as those who used other means, the researchers said.

"In 2003, an estimated 31,484 suicides (10.7 per 100,000 population) occurred in the United States," the report reads.

"Suicide was the fourth leading cause of death among persons aged 10 to 64 years and the second and third leading causes of death among persons aged 25 to 34 and 10 to 24 years, respectively." 

© Reuters 2006

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