Higher minimum legal drinking ages-lower rates of suicides

A study by the Washington University School of Medicine found that higher minimum legal drinking ages linked to lower rates of suicides and homicides later in life. The study was conducted on people who were legally able to drink at the age of 18. The study found they remain at elevated risk for suicide and homicide as adults, particularly women born after 1960. The results of the study will be published in the February 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

The minimum legal drink age (MLDA) was raised to 21 in 1984 primary to reduce the risk of DUI but has an effect on rates of suicides and homicides. This finding will likely help this law to not be repealed as some college age men and women want.

Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine, and corresponding author for the study says “Many scientists believe the adolescent brain is especially vulnerable to the effects of drugs, including alcohol,” said Grucza. “But a lot of the findings supporting that idea come from animal experiments that can’t be extended to humans. We saw drinking-age changes as a ‘natural experiment’ to see what happens to young people who have easy access to alcohol compared to those whose access is restricted: if early drinking was a true risk factor for subsequent alcoholism, then we should see multiple adverse long-term consequences among people who lived under more permissive drinking age laws as youth. Our results help to solidify the case for drinking age laws.”

Read more about the study here:

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