J Korean Med Sci.  2004 Apr;19(2):186-194. 10.3346/jkms.2004.19.2.186.

Epidemiologic Characteristics of Death by Poisoning in 1991-2001 in Korea

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. suhgil@snu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Preventive Medicine, Kangwon National University Medical School, Chuncheon, Korea.
  • 3Department of Genetics, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, USA.
  • 4Health Insurance Review Agency, Seoul, Korea.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the epidemiologic characteristics of the death by poisoning in Korea. We recoded the Death Certificates Database by injury based on the short version of the International Classification of External Causes of Injuries (ICECI). We evaluated the mortality rate by total injury and poisoning, and analyzed the mortality rate by age, gender, year and month, toxic agent, and intent. Adjusted odds ratios were calculated to evaluate the effects of socioeconomic factors on suicidal poisoning death. The total number of death cases by injury was 346,656. The proportion of death cases by injury decreased from 13.53% of all death cases in 1991 to 11.89% in 2001. However, the mortality rate by poisoning increased rapidly from 1998, and then remained stable. The number of suicidal poisoning deaths has gradually increased, and its mortality rate was 6.41 (per 100,000) in 2001. Major toxic agents were pesticides and herbicides (50.90%) in 2001. Adjusted odds ratios of suicidal poisoning versus other poisonings showed significant differences in education attainment, region, and marital status. In conclusion, the mortality rate by poisoning has increased, and the proportion of suicidal poisoning also has increased compared to that of accidental poisoning.


Wounds and Injuries; Poisoning; Suicide; Mortality; Korea; Epidemiology

MeSH Terms

Death Certificates
Longitudinal Studies
Middle Aged
Sex Distribution
Socioeconomic Factors
Suicide/*statistics & numerical data
Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


  • Fig. 1 Mortality rate of poisoning by intent and year (per 100,000).

  • Fig. 2 Proportion of major toxic agents.

  • Fig. 3 Mortality rate by agent and year (per 100,000).

  • Fig. 4 Distribution of accidental poisoning and suicidal poisoning by month.

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