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Study Links ER Visits to Problem Gambling

12 May 2004

NEW ZEALAND – As reported by the New Zealand Herald: "More than one in six people seen in hospitals for trying to kill or hurt themselves have gambling problems, according to a study.

"…For her master's degree thesis, psychotherapist and social worker Alison Penfold approached the 189 patients who attended North Shore Hospital's emergency department during nearly five months last year after harming or attempting to kill themselves.

"Of the 70 who agreed to answer her questionnaire, 12 (17.1 per cent) were problem gamblers.

"…Most of the problem gamblers primarily played poker machines - the game of first choice for 86 per cent of people who attend face-to-face treatment services for problem gamblers.

"Although a small study, it is the first of problem gambling incidence among self-harm/attempted suicide patients at a hospital.

"…Gambling and alcohol problems together tended to dramatically increase a person's suicide risk…"

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