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Suicide Attempt by Self-poisoning: Characteristics of Suicide Attempters Seen at the Emergency Room at the University Hospital of the West Indies



Objective: To document the characteristics of self-poisoning suicide attempters who were brought to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) Emergency Room and to outline the type of drug used in the attempt.

Method: This was a retrospective study conducted over the period 2005–2009. Data were gathered from patients’ case records, log books and the hospital records using a questionnaire developed for this study. The questionnaire examined demographics, parameters of the drug ingested, patient’s disposition, and reasons for attempt, final outcome and the type of discharge of patients who reported to the UHWI Emergency Room due to a suicide attempt by self-poisoning.

Results: Over the five-year period, 127 cases of suicide attempt by self-poisoning were reported. Significantly more females than males presented to the hospital due to self-poisoning (3:1, χ2 = 33.37; p < 0.001). Of this amount, 96 cases (75.6%) were females and 31 (24.4%) were males. The age group most recorded was 16–30 years (70.8%). The most common reason for the suicide attempt was an interpersonal conflict (52%). The drug category most often used in self-poisoning was analgesics (52%) with acetaminophens being the most common (26.2%).

Conclusion: These findings are consistent with global suicide trends and indicate an urgent need to develop and implement national preventative and treatment measures for groups known to be at risk of suicidal attempts.

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e-Published: 24 Oct, 2013
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