Deliberate Overdosage in a Hospital Catchment Area: Preliminary Results of a 7-Year Study

  • J. G. Harvey
  • M. S. Christian


In 1977, it was estimated that if the current trend in self-poisoning continued, within 10 years in England and Wales, every available emergency medical bed would be occupied by a patient admitted as a result of an overdose (Jones 1977). As it so happened, the timing of this prediction coincided with the reversal of this trend and a progressive decrease in the overall numbers. Figure 1 shows the considerable increase that occurred during the mid-1960s both in fatal and non-fatal self-poisoning. Whereas fatal self-poisoning reached a plateau after 1969, the rise in non-fatal self-poisoning continued for a further 8 years. The ratio of admissions to deaths rose from 10:1 to over 30:1, a factor which was not due to radical improvements in the treatment of overdosed patients. Since 1977, mortality has declined by 25% and admissions have decreased by over 20% according to figures published in the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry for England and Wales. The purpose of this present survey has been to determine the extent of deliberate self-poisoning within a defined area and provide a detailed analysis of the substances taken, persons involved and the overall outcome.

Fig. 1

Admissions to hospital compared with overall mortality after overdose in England and Wales (1957–1983)


Drug Cocktail Noxious Substance Strong Analgesic Overdose Patient Hospital Catchment Area 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. G. Harvey
  • M. S. Christian

There are no affiliations available

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