Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2012 Dec;10(3):180-184. 10.9758/cpn.2012.10.3.180.

Characteristics of Drug Overdose in Young Suicide Attempters

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Uijeongbu St. Mary's Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, Uijeongbu, Korea. mindcure@catholic.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Uijeongbu St. Mary's Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, Uijeongbu, Korea.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Few studies have focused on the characteristic features of drug overdose in children and adolescents who have attempted suicide in Korea. The present study examined the characteristics of drug overdose in children and adolescents who visited the emergency room following drug ingestion for a suicide attempt.
METHODS
The medical records of 28 patients who were treated in the emergency room following a drug overdose from January 2008 to March 2011 were analyzed. Demographic and clinical variables related to the suicide attempts were examined.
RESULTS
The mean age of the patients was 16.6+/-1.7 years (range 11-19 years), and 20 of the patients (71.4%) were female. Most of the patients (n=23, 82.1%) overdosed on a single drug; acetaminophen-containing analgesics were the most common (n=12, 42.9%). Depression was the most common psychiatric disorder (n=22, 78.6%), and interpersonal conflict was the most common precipitating factor of the suicide attempts (n=11, 39.3%). This was the first suicide attempt for approximately 80% of the patients. About one fourth of the patients (n=7, 25%) had follow-up visits at the psychiatric outpatient clinic.
CONCLUSION
Early screening and psychiatric intervention for depression may be an important factor in preventing childhood and adolescent suicide attempts. Developing coping strategies to manage interpersonal conflicts may also be helpful. Moreover, policies restricting the amount and kind of drugs purchased by teenagers may be necessary to prevent drug overdose in this age group.

Keyword

Suicide; Overdose; Childhood; Adolescence
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