Medicine self-poisoning and the sources of the drugs in Lund, Sweden

Margot Alsén, Anders Ekedahl, Peter Löwenhielm, Anders Niméus, G Regnell, Lil Träskman Bendz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of toxic agents in attempted and completed suicides. The purpose was also to explore the sources of the drugs taken by suicide attempters. Verbal information on drug intake was collected from 280 suicide attempters during 1987-1990 in the Lund-Orup catchment area. Information on the sources of the drugs was collected from 143 of these attempters. The study also includes toxicological screening from 73 fatal poisonings in southern Sweden during 1989. According to verbal information, the most common drugs used by suicide attempters were benzodiazepines (51%), analgesics (29%) and antidepressants (20%). In suicide attempters, diazepam and levomepromazine were reported more than expected from prescription data. Toxicological screenings of fatal poisonings showed that benzodiazepines were most common (55%), followed by analgesics (38%), mainly propoxyphene (29%) and antidepressants (30%), mainly amitriptyline (22%). Amitriptyline and diazepam were more commonly detected in completed suicides than expected from prescription data. The most common sources of drugs to attempted suicides were physicians, and especially psychiatrists. We therefore conclude that continuous information to physicians on drug overdose is important, and it is also important to introduce alternative strategies to prevent suicidal behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-261
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1994

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Division of Health Economics and Forensic Medicine (Closed 2012) (013040050), Psychiatry (Lund) (013303000), Cardio-vascular Epidemiology (013241610)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychiatry


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