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Problem gamblers have highest suicide rate of any addiction disorder, studies show

Posted at 12:22 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 12:22:34-04

CLEVELAND — September is World Suicide Prevention week, and experts are raising awareness about disordered gambling, which has the highest suicide rate among all addictions with 1 in 5 problem gamblers attempting suicide.

The 2017 Report on Problem Gambling Services shows that nearly one in 10 Ohioans who gamble are currently experiencing or are at risk of developing a gambling problem.

Roughly one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide, a rate higher than that for any other addictive disorder.

Approximately 220,000 Ohioans engage in at-risk gambling with 30,000 engaging in problem gambling behaviors.

Early detection and support are essential in getting help for problem gambling and preventing suicide. Unlike other addictions, problem gambling has no physical symptoms.

Combined with the stigma surrounding discussing finances, a gambling problem can often go undetected, resulting in devastating consequences for the gambler and their family. However, these are common warning signs to look for:

  • Exaggerating gambling wins and downplaying losses
  • Asking for loans to cover gambling losses
  • Using money for food, rent or other necessities for gambling
  • Poor work performance
  • Restlessness or irritability when not gambling

Of Ohioans that participate in casino gambling, 8.2% are estimated to be at low-risk, moderate risk or meet criteria for problem gambling, compared to 4.8% for lottery and 5.1% for other gambling.

Ohioans with alcohol or other drug addiction are more likely to have a gambling problem. Gambling rates among teens and young adults have been shown to be two to three times that of adults.

In addition, problem gambling treatment is available at low or no cost in Ohio, and recovery is possible. The Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline operates 24/7 at 1-800-589-9966 to provide resources for those experiencing a gambling problem or concerned loved ones. Specialists can connect callers with treatment options in their area within 24 hours.