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Experience of a central London unit dedicated to the care of patients following parasuicide between 1984 and 1988 is reviewed. There were 1160 admissions, which accounted for 11% of all acute adult medical admissions. The female to male ratio was 1.3, with a peak rate for females below 25 years and for males between 20 and 35. Unemployment was found to be a risk factor for parasuicide in men. Benzodiazepines were the most frequently used drug in parasuicide (35%), followed by paracetamol (13%) and aspirin (9%).