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Smoking and Suicide: Changes in State Tobacco Policies as Natural Experiments

2011 Standard Research Grant
Amount Awarded: $74,655
Focus Area: Psychosocial Studies

Richard Grucza, Ph.D., M.P.E.

Richard Grucza, Ph.D., M.P.E.
Washington University School of Medicine

Inside the Research

Bio: Dr. Grucza received his doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, in 2000 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine. He is a current recipient of an NIH grant and has published widely on the subject of substance use disorders.

Research Categories: Epidemiology, governmental policy, tobacco.

Abstract: While smoking and suicide are strongly related, the nature and direction of that relationship is unclear: We don’t know whether smoking increases the risk for suicide or whether it serves as “self-medication” for individuals already at risk. Using several population-based data sets, Dr. Grucza aims to determine whether policies at the state level intended to lower the smoking rate, such as taxes on cigarettes or limiting access for youth, are related to changes in suicide rates. Residents in states with anti-smoking policies will be compared with residents in states without such policies. Dr. Grucza will also study the impact of smoking policies by examining the suicide rates of policy-holding states before and after the policy was implemented. These natural experiments may help to increase our understanding of the relationship between smoking and suicide.

Impact: To clarify how physicians should approach smoking cessation for patients with a high suicide risk, and to understand how state policies can influence suicide rates.