Understanding the Relation Between Gambling and Suicide

For years, researchers have studied the relationship between gambling and suicide, including suicidal ideation and self-harm. Previous studies have already shown a positive correlation between attempts of suicide, suicide, and self-harm among those who are problem gamblers. Yet, more work is still needed to fully understand the dynamic association between gambling and suicide.

Recently, researchers have furthered their knowledge of gambling and suicide, unraveling more components of this deadly combination through a deeper examination of existing data sets. Relevant literature related to the topic, as well as the availability of support systems to gamblers experiencing thoughts of suicide, were analyzed. These findings have led to a better understanding of two particular processes that lead gamblers to suicidal ideation. These factors were shown to be shame and excessive debt.

Here we’ll take an in-depth look at gambling-related suicide, self-harm, and suicide attempts and what can be done to help those that need help.

Problem Gambling and Suicidality

In a 2017 Ohio report, problem gamblers were at the greatest risk of attempting suicide when compared to other pathological disorders. Roughly 1 in 5 problem gamblers were noted as attempting suicide. Since problem gambling is stigmatized as being irresponsible and carries a significant element of shame with it, getting the necessary help to those that may be considering suicide is many times impossible. 

Additionally, as there are no physical symptoms that accompany, it can be extremely difficult to spot someone with a gambling problem, making it challenging to provide support to those that may be contemplating suicide. Intervention is key to preventing the devastating consequences of suicide.

Is the Issue of Problem Gambling and Suicide Growing?

As gambling becomes more commonplace in society, the prevalence of problem gambling and the issues accompanying it have increased. The widespread promotion of gambling and increased accessibility have led to a surge in problem gambling. 

The lack of oversight by public health officials has also exacerbated the problem leading to a range of issues that are due to increased gambling. These include mental health problems, increased crime and poverty, domestic issues, and suicide. Without proper measures being put into place to match the growth rate of gambling, researchers expect to see all of these issues continue to increase, especially in vulnerable populations.

How Problem Gambling Contributes to a Rise in Suicidal Ideation

In a recent study on problem gambling and suicide, research papers on the topic were used to extract data on the prevalence and causes of self-harm in relation to gambling. In the majority of these cases, gambling and gambling-related debt were seen as the primary cause of suicide. Additionally, debt was a critical factor in suicidality among pathological gamblers worldwide, with cases ranging from India to East Africa.

Shame was the second-most prevalent process for suicide occurrence in those suffering from problematic gambling patterns. Both shame and the guilt that accompanies pathological gambling worsen the psychological state of the gambler leading to suicide or a suicide attempt.

Get the Help You Need at 800-GAMBLER

800-GAMBLER is a leading provider of support services for those that suffer from problem gambling. We offer a range of programs like Gamblers Anonymous meetings and NJ self-exclusion tips to help individuals wanting to overcome the adverse effects of problematic gambling. Contact us today to learn more.


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