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J R Soc Med. 1987 March; 80(3): 145–148.
PMCID: PMC1290719

Changing ethnic and social characteristics of patients admitted for self-poisoning in West London during 1971/2 and 1983/4.


The characteristics of adult patients admitted for self-poisoning to an inner London district general hospital were examined during 1971/72 and 1983/84. The incidence of self-poisoning halved over the 12 years, from 326 to 178 per 100,000. Although no West Indians were admitted in the first period, they comprised 7% of such admissions 12 years later. The West Indian population in the catchment area remained constant at around 6%. Amongst all patients admitted for self-poisoning, there was a fall in the number of patients diagnosed as depressed, having a personality disorder or admitting to prior psychiatric care, but an increase in alcoholism. Paracetamol became more common as a drug used in self-poisoning and barbiturates were taken less often. Only one patient died in the series. These results should stimulate more soundly based epidemiological studies on ethnic variation in self-poisoning, and on self-injury in inner-city areas.

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Selected References

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