Alcohol dependence is a risk factor for suicide, and in the general population alcohol consumption and suicide rates are known to be associated. We investigated victims with and without alcohol misuse among unselected completed suicides to explore the role of alcohol misuse in the suicidal process and final act. In a total 1-year (1987-1988) population of suicides in the National Suicide Prevention Project in Finland, alcohol-misusing and -non-misusing victims were compared. On the basis of informant interviews, 35% (n = 349) of included victims were classified as alcohol misusers and 65% (n = 648) as non-misusers. The misusers were more often younger, male, divorced or separated and had more often worked, but were recently unemployed. They had experienced more often recent adverse life events possibly dependent on their own behaviour, were far more likely to be alcohol-intoxicated at the time of suicide, and tended to die from drug overdose. Several characteristics of these predominantly male alcohol misusers indicated better earlier lifetime psychosocial adjustment compared to the non-misusers, but more adverse life events close to suicide. Alcohol misuse is likely to have a deteriorating influence on the life course of those who eventually succumb to suicide, and its adverse consequences are common in misusers during the final months.