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Logo of jroyalcgpracBJGP at RCGPBJGP at PubMed CentralJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralRCGP homepage
J R Coll Gen Pract. 1980 May; 30(214): 288–291.
PMCID: PMC2159532

Self-poisoning: changing patterns in East Cheshire, 1970-1975


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.

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Selected References

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  • Bancroft JH, Skrimshire AM, Reynolds F, Simkin S, Smith J. Self-poisoning and self-injury in the Oxford area. Epidemiological aspects 1969-73. Br J Prev Soc Med. 1975 Sep;29(3):170–177. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Buglass D, Horton J. The repetition of parasuicide: a comparison of three cohorts. Br J Psychiatry. 1974 Aug;125(0):168–174. [PubMed]
  • Gardner R, Hanka R, O'Brien VC, Page AJ, Rees R. Psychological and social evaluation in cases of deliberate self-poisoning admitted to a general hospital. Br Med J. 1977 Dec 17;2(6102):1567–1570. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Jones DI. Self-poisoning with drugs: the past 20 years in Sheffield. Br Med J. 1977 Jan 1;1(6052):28–29. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kennedy P, Kreitman N. An epidemiological survey of parasuicide ('attempted suicide') in general practice. Br J Psychiatry. 1973 Jul;123(572):23–34. [PubMed]
  • Mitchell I, Lawson AA. Social and environmental aspects of self-poisoning. Scott Med J. 1974 Jan;19(1):13–19. [PubMed]
  • Proudfoot AT, Park J. Changing pattern of drugs used for self-poisoning. Br Med J. 1978 Jan 14;1(6105):90–93. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Tulloch JA. Self-poisoning: a 10-year review of patients admitted to Stracathro Hospital. Scott Med J. 1972 Aug;17(8):278–281. [PubMed]

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