Suicidal intention, psychosocial factors and referral to further treatment: A one-year cross-sectional study of self-poisoning

Bjornaas, Mari A.; Hovda, Knut E.; Heyerdahl, Fridtjof; Skog, Karina; Drottning, Per; Opdahl, Anders; Jacobsen, Dag; Ekeberg, Oivind
January 2010
BMC Psychiatry;2010, Vol. 10, p58
Academic Journal
Background: Patients treated for self-poisoning have an increased risk of death, both by natural and unnatural causes. The follow-up of these patients is therefore of great importance. The aim of this study was to explore the differences in psychosocial factors and referrals to follow-up among self-poisoning patients according to their evaluated intention. Methods: A cross-sectional multicenter study of all 908 admissions to hospital because of self-poisoning in Oslo during one year was completed. Fifty-four percent were females, and the median age was 36 years. The patients were grouped according to evaluated intention: suicide attempts (moderate to high suicide intent), appeals (low suicide intent) and substance-use related poisonings. Multinomial regression analyses compared patients based on their evaluated intention; suicide attempts were used as the reference. Results: Of all self-poisoning incidents, 37% were suicide attempts, 26% were appeals and 38% were related to substance use. Fifty-five percent of the patients reported previous suicide attempts, 58% reported previous or current psychiatric treatment and 32% reported daily substance use. Overall, patients treated for self-poisoning showed a lack of social integration. Only 33% were employed, 34% were married or cohabiting and 53% were living alone. Those in the suicide attempt and appeal groups had more previous suicide attempts and reported more psychiatric treatment than those with poisoning related to substance use. One third of all patients with substance use-related poisoning reported previous suicide attempts, and one third of suicide attempt patients reported daily substance use. Gender distribution was the only statistically significant difference between the appeal patients and suicide attempt patients. Almost one in every five patients was discharged without any plans for follow-up: 36% of patients with substance use-related poisoning and 5% of suicide attempt patients. Thirtyeight percent of all suicide attempt patients were admitted to a psychiatric ward. Only 10% of patients with substance use-related poisoning were referred to substance abuse treatment. Conclusions: All patients had several risk factors for suicidal behavior. There were only minor differences between suicide attempt patients and appeal patients. If the self-poisoning was evaluated as related to substance use, the patient was often discharged without plans for follow-up.


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