Common Agents used in parasuicide in Buffalo City

Kiran Sukeri


Background. Parasuicide is a serious public health concern. Understanding the methods used will help in developing preventive strategies.

Objective. To investigate the agent(s) used in parasuicide attempts by individuals aged 10 - 20 years in Buffalo City (which includes the municipalities of East London, King William’s Town and Bhisho in the Eastern Cape).

Method. All referrals for parasuicide to the East London Mental Health Unit, the only mental health facility servicing Buffalo City, for the period January 2006 to December 2008 were analysed with regard to age, agent(s), number of attempts and psychiatric disorder.

Results. Of 1 169 patients referred after parasuicide by ingestion of substances, 360 (31%) were between the ages of 10 and 20 years. Eighty-three per cent were female and 17% male. Cattle dip was the commonest agent used, followed by amitriptyline.

Conclusion. The study showed that organophosphates were the commonest agent used in parasuicide in Buffalo City and that the incidence of parasuicide was higher in females than in males.



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Submitted: 10 May 2009
Published: 01 October 2009

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)