Aims To assess the association between alcohol use and victimization by homicide in individuals autopsied at the Institute of Legal Medicine in São Paulo, Brazil.
Design Cross-sectional study.
Setting Excessive consumption of alcohol is a serious public health issue and a major factor in triggering violent situations, which suggests a strong association between alcohol ingestion and becoming a victim of homicide.
Participants Data from 2042 victims of homicides in 2005 were obtained from medical examiner reports.
Measurements The victim's gender, age, ethnicity and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) were collected. The method of death and homicide circumstances, as well as the date, time and place of death were also studied.
Findings Alcohol was detected in blood samples of 43% of the victims, and mean BAC levels were 1.55 ± 0.86 g/l. The prevalence of positive BAC levels was higher among men (44.1%) than women (26.6%), P < 0.01. Firearms caused most of the deaths (78.6%), and alcohol consumption was greater among victims of homicide by sharp weapons (P < 0.01). A greater proportion of victims with positive BAC were killed at weekends compared to weekdays (56.4 and 38.5%, respectively; P < 0.01), and the correlation between homicide rates and the average BAC for the central area of the city was positive (rs = 0.90; P < 0.01).
Conclusions These results highlight alcohol as a contributing factor for homicide victimization in the greatest urban center in South America, supporting public strategies and future research aiming to prevent homicides and violence related to alcohol consumption.