German Scientists Say Smokers More Prone to Suicide | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 09.02.2008
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German Scientists Say Smokers More Prone to Suicide

Plenty has been said about the effect of smoking on people's bodies, but for the first time a study has shown that smoking may also be related to emotional problems.


The physiological reasons for the link between tobacco and suicide are not yet clear

A recently published study by the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich claims that there is a connection between tobacco and suicide.

Over 3,000 people between the ages of 14 and 24 -- categorized as non-smokers, occasional smokers, non-addicted regular smokers and addicted heavy smokers -- were questioned about their suicidal thoughts in 1995 and again in 1999. About two thirds of the initial test subjects participated in the second round of questioning.

While less than 15 percent of non-smokers reported having suicidal thoughts, over 30 percent of addicts had considered committing suicide. The rate for occasional smokers and non-addicted regular smokers was around 20 percent.

More research needed

None of the test subjects actually took their own life during the study, though almost 70 of them made suicide attempts.

"Campaigns for reducing smoking should also point to the elevated risk of suicidality for occasional and regular smokers," wrote the study's authors in the Journal of Affective Disorders, as reported by DPA news agency.

The scientists in charge of the study said that none of the participants had a history of clinical depression or of alcohol or drug abuse. They also cautioned that, while a connection had been found, no direct causal link had been established and more research was needed.

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