Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert L. Betz

Second Advisor

Dr. Edward L. Trembley

Third Advisor

Dr. Linda M. DeLene


The focus of the study was an examination of patient reports of a prior suicide attempt(s) as a predictor variable in completing a residential alcohol treatment program. Data were extracted from the records of 308 patients diagnosed as alcohol dependent based on criteria from the DSM III-R (APA, 1987). Additional demographic information, i.e. age, race, marital status, employment status, and substance use in family of origin, was collected for comparison to completion rates and prior suicide attempts.

Previous suicide attempt(s) was a statistically significant predictor for noncompletion of an alcohol treatment program for this study. The demographic factors of employment status and age had a predictive value for completion of the residential treatment program. Demographic factors of age and race were statistically significant when compared with a prior suicide attempt.

A possible explanation for the high dropout rate may be a neurophysiological link between suicide, alcoholism and depression. Additionally, a critical point, was dropping out by week two or three of the program. Being under 25 years of age seems to indicate less stability in the patient's life, it appears they are less motivated to complete the treatment program. The statistical results for younger Caucasian patients with a prior suicide attempt correlate to the late onset of sustained patterns of high consumption and suicide rates with Black males contrasted with patterns among white males for whom heavy drinking is more likely to be a short-term youthful phenomenon. Attempted suicide is associated more with younger individuals as an impulsive act combined with heavy alcohol consumption but suicide completion rates are reportedly higher with middle aged male population.

These findings have implications for future program decisions in terms of financial expenditures, admission policies and treatment planning. Where screening could detect those that need a specific type of treatment plan and intervention strategy, it would be a more positive outcome for the individual and reduce the cost of a failed treatment There are optional treatment modalities available for younger patients with a prior suicide attempt, such as groups or individual therapy that focus on issues important for this targeted population.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Counseling Commons