Korean J Psychosom Med.  2020 Dec;28(2):116-125. 10.22722/KJPM.2020.28.2.116.

A Study on the Characteristics of Intentional Self-Poisoning Patients : Comparison between Non-Prescription and Prescription Drugs

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Seoul Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Social Welfare, Dongshin University, Naju, Korea
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Maeumsarang Mental Hospital, Wanju, Korea


:Self-poisoning is the leading cause of visits to the emergency departments after a suicide attempts. This study is aimed to compare the patient characteristics according to the category of drugs ingested by the patients who attempted suicide.
:All medical charts were retrospectively reviewed from patients who visited the emergency center, at Seoul Medical Center, due to intentional self-poisoning from April of 2011 to July of 2019. We investigated the information regarding the subtype and quantity of the intoxication drug, how it was obtained, suicidal history, and psychiatric history, as well as, sociodemographic information. Variables were compared between prescription drug (PD) and non-prescription drug (NPD) poisoning groups.
:The mean age of the NPD poisoning group was significantly lower than that of the PD poisoning group. The patient ratio of those enrolled in national health insurance and living with spouses were significantly higher in the NPD poisoning group. Compared to the NPD poisoning group, the PD poisoning group had a higher incidence of mental illnesses, underlying diseases and ratio of involuntary visit to the emergency department. Among the prescription drugs, the benzodiazepine poisoning group had a higher rate of self-prescription than the non-poisoning group, while the zolpidem poisoning group had a higher rate of the using someone else’s prescription than other drugs. Each single drug poisoning group (benzodiazepine, zolpidem, and antidepressant singleagent) had a higher rate of no mental illness than each of the mixed-poisoning group.
:Guidelines for regulating non-prescription drugs are needed as a matter of suicide prevention. Also, this study suggests that clinicians need to be careful when issuing prescriptions and should suicidal risk according to patients’ characteristics, duration of follow-up and type of drug packaging.


Intoxication; Emergency; Suicide; Non-prescription drugs; Prescription drugs
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