Sources of Medications Used by Children and Adolescents for Intentional Ingestion: A Retrospective Chart Review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction Suicide is a leading cause of death among adolescents. Oregon ranks 17th nationally for youth suicide rates, and ingestion of medications as a means of suicide is common. Despite the high prevalence of intentional poisoning among youth in Oregon, information about medications used by children and adolescents for attempted suicide, in particular the sources of medications, is not readily available. Methods The objective of this study is to describe types and sources of medications used for intentional ingestion among patients seen by the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Service. This was a retrospective analysis of patients seen by the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Service for intentional ingestion from 2015 to 2017. Data on 434 total intentional ingestions were collected, including demographic information, types of medications ingested, and sources of both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription (Rx) medications. Ingestions without intent of suicide were excluded. Descriptive analysis of ingestion data was performed. Results Intentional ingestions included Rx and OTC medications in similar frequencies. For Rx medications, 68% of ingestions included patients' own Rxs. Eighty-eight percent of ingestions that were not the patients' own Rx belonged to someone else living in their home. For OTC medications, 66% of medications were available at home. Conclusions Intentional ingestions among adolescents most frequently involve medications that are readily available in their homes, and these include both OTC and Rx medications. This study highlights the importance of securing medications at home as a preventative measure and the importance of anticipatory guidance for primary care providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1213-E1216
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • adolescent
  • ingestion
  • self-harm
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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