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Characteristics of hospital-treated intentional drug overdose in Ireland and Northern Ireland
  1. Eve Griffin1,
  2. Paul Corcoran1,2,
  3. Linda Cassidy3,
  4. Amanda O'Carroll3,
  5. Ivan J Perry2,
  6. Brendan Bonner3
  1. 1National Suicide Research Foundation, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  3. 3Public Health Agency, Derry, Northern Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Eve Griffin; evegriffin{at}


Objectives This study compared the profile of intentional drug overdoses (IDOs) presenting to emergency departments in Ireland and in the Western Trust Area of Northern Ireland between 2007 and 2012. Specifically the study aimed to compare characteristics of the patients involved, to explore the factors associated with repeated IDO and to report the prescription rates of common drug types in the population.

Methods We utilised data from two comparable registries which monitor the incidence of hospital-treated self-harm, recording data from deliberate self-harm presentations involving an IDO to all hospital emergency departments for the period 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2012.

Results Between 2007 and 2012 the registries recorded 56 494 self-harm presentations involving an IDO. The study showed that hospital-treated IDO was almost twice as common in Northern Ireland than in Ireland (278 vs 156/100 000, respectively).

Conclusions Despite the overall difference in the rates of IDO, the profile of such presentations was remarkably similar in both countries. Minor tranquillisers were the drugs most commonly involved in IDOs. National campaigns are required to address the availability and misuse of minor tranquillisers, both prescribed and non-prescribed.


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