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For Women, Lower Legal Minimum Drinking Ages Linked to Increased Suicide and Homicide Risk

Need more evidence for the sensibility of a mature minimum drinking age (21)? Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis say that women who grew up in states with lower legal minimum drinking ages were significantly more likely to fall victim to homicide or suicide over a lifetime.

From 1949 to 1972, legal drinking ages across American states differed substantially.  To find out what impact growing up with a lower legal minimum drinking age might have on violent death rates, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis examined data from 200,000 suicides and 130,000 murders during this 23 year period.

For men, they found that variations in legal minimum drinking age had little impact on violent death, but for women, the story was slightly different.

  • Women who grew up in states with lower legal minimum drinking ages were 15% more likely to have been murdered and 12% more likely to have committed suicide than women who grew up in states with a legal minimum drinking age of 21.

The researchers say that based on this, they estimate that the nationwide legal minimum drinking age of 21 saves roughly 1200 women per year from death by suicide or homicide.

The full study results can be found in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

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