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This study describes the changing patterns of adult self-poisoning in East Cheshire between 1970 and 1975. Six hundred and ninety episodes were analysed. It was found that the percentage of acute medical admissions due to self-poisoning increased during the five years: it doubled for females and trebled for males.
The average annual incidence of self-poisoning was one per 600 of the population, a rate lower than that in the cities. It was most common in females under 25 years of age, the divorced and single, the unemployed, urban dwellers, previous self-poisoners, and social classes 4 and 5. In a third of the patients it followed a quarrel with a sexual partner. The risk of unconsciousness increased with age and occurred in over half the patients aged between 65 and 74 years. The mortality rate was almost the same for repeaters as non-repeaters — seven per cent overall. Half of the patients presented at the accident and emergency department within two hours of taking the poison.
It is recommended that the medical records of patients with multiple self-poisoning risk factors be identified with temporary stickers.