Characteristics of Presentations to the Emergency Department Following Attempted Suicide with Drugs.

Kummer, Mirjam; Müller, Thomas; Exadaktylos, Aristomenis K; Krähenbühl, Stephan; Liakoni, Evangelia (2021). Characteristics of Presentations to the Emergency Department Following Attempted Suicide with Drugs. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(19) MDPI 10.3390/ijerph181910232

2021-09-28_Kummer.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (2MB) | Preview

A relatively high proportion of attempted suicides employ self-poisoning with medication. Data from emergency department presentations can help to identify possible risk drug classes and provide a basis for preventive measures. This retrospective analysis included cases presenting at the emergency department of the University Hospital of Bern, Switzerland, from May 2012 to August 2016, after attempted suicide with drugs. We excluded attempted suicides with only alcohol or other non-medical substances. During the study period, there were 488 cases (466 patients) of attempted suicide with medical substances. The median patient age was 33 years (range 16-93) and 354 (73%) cases were female. The most commonly involved substances/drug classes were benzo-diazepines (n = 167, 34%), neuroleptics (n = 114, 23%) and paracetamol (n = 111, 23%). A total of 231 (47%) cases employed only a single substance. Common symptoms included somnolence (n = 245, 50%), tachycardia (n = 119, 24%) and nausea/vomiting (n = 76, 16%). In most cases, the poisoning was of minor severity (n = 231, 47%) and the patients were admitted to a psychiatric hospital (n = 264, 54%). Important preventive measures may include careful monitoring for suicidal behaviour when prescribing psychotropic drugs, in addition to restrictions in pack size. Efforts should also be made to enhance the awareness of health professionals qualified to prescribe or supply paracetamol.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of General Internal Medicine (DAIM) > Clinic of General Internal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > University Emergency Center

UniBE Contributor:

Kummer, Mirjam, Müller, Thomas (A), Exadaktylos, Aristomenis, Liakoni, Evangelia


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Tobias Tritschler

Date Deposited:

08 Nov 2021 13:49

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:37

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

drug poisoning emergency department suicidal attempt suicide




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback