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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Drug suicide: a sex-equal cause of death in 16 European countries
Author(s): Varnik, Airi
Sisask, Merike
Värnik, Peeter
Wu, Jing
Kolves, Kairi
Arensman, Ella
Maxwell, Margaret
Reisch, Thomas
Gusmao, Ricardo
Audenhove, Chantal van
Scheerder, Jeroen
van der Feltz-Cornelis, Christina M
Coffey, Claire
Kopp, Maria
Szekely, Andras
Roskar, Saska
Hegerl, Ulrich
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Keywords: Drug abuse
Issue Date: 29-Jan-2011
Date Deposited: 15-May-2013
Citation: Varnik A, Sisask M, Värnik P, Wu J, Kolves K, Arensman E, Maxwell M, Reisch T, Gusmao R, Audenhove Cv, Scheerder J, van der Feltz-Cornelis CM, Coffey C, Kopp M, Szekely A, Roskar S & Hegerl U (2011) Drug suicide: a sex-equal cause of death in 16 European countries. <i>BMC Public Health</i>, 11 (Article 61).
Abstract: Background: There is a lack of international research on suicide by drug overdose as a preventable suicide method. Sex- and age-specific rates of suicide by drug self-poisoning (ICD-10, X60-64) and the distribution of drug types used in 16 European countries were studied, and compared with other self-poisoning methods (X65-69) and intentional self-injury (X70-84).Methods: Data for 2000-04/05 were collected from national statistical offices. Age-adjusted suicide rates, and age and sex distributions, were calculated.Results: No pronounced sex differences in drug self-poisoning rates were found, either in the aggregate data (males 1.6 and females 1.5 per 100,000) or within individual countries. Among the 16 countries, the range (from some 0.3 in Portugal to 5.0 in Finland) was wide. 'Other and unspecified drugs' (X64) were recorded most frequently, with a range of 0.2-1.9, and accounted for more than 70% of deaths by drug overdose in France, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain. Psychotropic drugs (X61) ranked second. The X63 category ('other drugs acting on the autonomic nervous system') was least frequently used. Finland showed low X64 and high X61 figures, Scotland had high levels of X62 ('narcotics and hallucinogens, not elsewhere classified') for both sexes, while England exceeded other countries in category X60. Risk was highest among the middle-aged everywhere except in Switzerland, where the elderly were most at risk.Conclusions: Suicide by drug overdose is preventable. Intentional self-poisoning with drugs kills as many males as females. The considerable differences in patterns of self-poisoning found in the various European countries are relevant to national efforts to improve diagnostics of suicide and appropriate specific prevention. The fact that vast majority of drug-overdose suicides came under the category X64 refers to the need of more detailed ICD coding system for overdose suicides is needed to permit better design of suicide-prevention strategies at national level.
DOI Link: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-61
Rights: © 2011 Värnik et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:
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