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Use of prescription psychotropic drugs among suicide victims in New York City
Am J Psychiatry 1995;152:1520-1522.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The authors examined the rate of prescription psychotropic drug use among suicide victims at the time of their death. METHOD: From a total of 1,970 suicides that occurred in New York City from 1990 to 1992, 1,635 cases that had a complete toxicologic analysis and an injury-death interval of 48 hours or less were assessed at autopsy for the presence of commonly prescribed antidepressants and neuroleptics. RESULTS: Prescription psychotropic medications were detected in only 16.4% (N = 268) of the suicide victims studied. Demographic factors associated with use of these drugs included female gender and white race. Poisoning accounted for 17.9% (N = 293) of all suicides studied, but antidepressants or neuroleptics were detected in less than half of these victims. Among all suicide victims in whom an antidepressant or neuroleptic was detected, almost half had used lethal methods other than poisoning. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, most individuals who committed suicide in New York City were not taking prescription psychotropic medications at the time of their death and either were not receiving pharmacotherapy or were noncompliant.

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