Year: 2018 Source: Journal of Korean Medical Science SIEC No: 20180266

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 <  .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.