Characteristics of drugs ingested for suicide attempts in the elderly

Ji Yeon Lim, Duk Hee Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Suicide is a significant public health problem worldwide. Suicide rates among elderly persons (≥ 65 years of age) are three times higher than those of younger people in Korea. The emergency department is an important entry of drug-related suicide attempt patients. In this study, we compared the frequency of drug types by age subgroup. Furthermore, we provide suggestions for preventing suicide attempts in the elderly. Methods: We investigated 433 patients who were admitted to the emergency department for drug-related suicide attempts between 1 May 2015 and 30 April 2017. Results: The proportion of patients who overdosed on antidepressants was 32.5% in the non-elderly age group and 8.0% in the elderly group (≥ 65 years of age) (P < 0.001). Among the elderly, the most commonly ingested agent was hypnotics (59.1%) (P < 0.001). Compared with the non-elderly, the results showed that the elderly used fewer antidepressants (P < 0.001) and analgesics (P < 0.001). Meanwhile, the elderly used more hypnotics (P < 0.001). Over-the-counter drugs and other medications showed similar usage trends in both age groups (P = 0.664, P = 0.193). Conclusion: The categories of drugs ingested for suicide attempts vary widely between different age groups. Younger people used antidepressants more frequently in suicide attempts, while the elderly used hypnotics more frequently. And the elderly required longer hospital stays. Suicide ideation and depressive mood in older patients who are prescribed hypnotics for various reasons should not be neglected. Further prevention efforts are needed to prevent suicide among the elderly.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere86
JournalJournal of Korean Medical Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - 12 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences.


  • Elderly
  • Hypnotics
  • Suicide


Dive into the research topics of 'Characteristics of drugs ingested for suicide attempts in the elderly'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this