Research Article

Why do people use paracetamol for suicide?

Br Med J 1976; 1 doi: (Published 24 January 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;1:212

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. B G Gazzard,
  2. M Davis,
  3. J Spooner,
  4. R Williams


    A questionnaire to assess motives for choosing paracetamol as a suicidal agent was completed by 107 patients admitted after an overdose of the drug. None of the 48 patients interviewed would have chosen paracetamol had they known that there would be an interval of two to three days before the onset of serious symptoms. Only five of the patients had obtained the drug on prescription, but the remainder had obtained it easily from a retail pharmacy. There was no apparent reason for the preference for paracetamol. It would be difficult to restrict the availability of paracetamol, and educating the public about the effects of an overdose would be more appropriate.