A study of deliberate self-poisoning in a Dublin hospital 1986 — 1990

Fergus Coakley, Catherine Hayes, John Fennell, Zachary Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: The study was undertaken to determine the current demographic and clinical features of cases of deliberate self-poisoning (DSP) presenting to an acute general hospital and to compare the findings with previous work in Ireland and elsewhere. Method: Four hundred and sixty seven consecutive admissions for DSP presenting to a Dublin hospital between 1986 and 1990 inclusive were identified retrospectively and the case notes reviewed. Data was collected on age, sex, marital status, past history, date of DSP, drugs used, motivating factors and outcome. Results: The peak age of DSP was 15-24 years. The female: male ratio was 1.5:1. There was an increased incidence of DSP in women in July and August. In 32% there was a previous history of DSP. Benzodiazepines, antidepressants and analgesics/anti-inflammatories were the commonest drugs taken. There was a significant medical complication in 10.5% of cases, but no fatalities. Twenty-five percent of patients were subsequently admitted to psychiatric inpatient care. Conclusions: DSP is an ongoing problem. The summer peak in females may be related to the parenting burden during the summer recess. The high rate of repetition suggests a significant reduction could be achieved with successful strategies for secondary prevention. The high rate of psychiatric in-patient referral may be related to a low threshold for admissions to Irish psychiatric hospitals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-72
Number of pages3
JournalIrish Journal of Psychological Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Deliberate self-poisonins
  • Demography
  • Inpatient referral
  • Seasonal variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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