Adolescent Suicidal Ingestion: National Trends Over a Decade

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33 Scopus citations


Purpose Suicide attempts by adolescents most commonly involve the overdose of medications. To date, there has been little information on the over-the-counter or prescription medicines that adolescents ingest for self-harm. Identification of medications chosen in suicide attempts may help guide anticipatory guidance to parents by primary care providers and Poison Centers in prevention programs. Methods This was a retrospective observational study using the American Association of Poison Control Center's National Poison Data System. Data were collected on patients aged 13–19 years old at the time of their substance ingestion, between the years 2004 and 2013 and that were coded as reason for ingestion of “intentional-suspected suicide.” Results During the 10-year study period, there were 390,560 poison center calls for intentional-suspected suicide in the United States between 2004 and 2013, accounting for 80.3% of all “intentional” ingestion calls in the adolescent population. Over the entire age range, the most common substance ingested included acetaminophen (10.9%), ibuprofen (9%), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (7.7%), atypical antipsychotic (6%), and antihistamines (5%). The most common medications coded as resulting in major clinical effects or death were antidepressants and atypical antipsychotics. Conclusions Adolescent ingestion choices for suicide attempts have remained relatively consistent over the past 10 years. However, there was a recent decrease in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor ingestions. The most common medications used in an overdose attempt were ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Further preventative efforts are needed in this at-risk population from multiple providers at various levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-195
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Adolescent
  • Ingestion
  • Suicidal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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