Self-poisonings before and during the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic in northern Poland
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Medical University of Gdansk, Gdańsk, Poland (Department of Clinical Toxicology)
Pomeranian Center of Toxicology, Gdańsk, Poland
Łukasz Sein Anand   

Medical University of Gdansk, Department of Clinical Toxicology, Kartuska 4/6, 80-104 Gdańsk, Poland
Online publication date: 2022-05-13
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2022;35(5):527–535
Objectives: The objectives of this study included evaluating and reporting on the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and preventive measures in the form of a lockdown on self-poisoning tendencies in northern Poland. Material and Methods: The authors retrospectively analyzed medical records of all patients (N = 2990) admitted to the Pomeranian Center of Toxicology in 2018–2020. Of those, further analysis included 2140 patients who had been admitted because of a suicide attempt by self-poisoning. The authors also selected a group of 40 patients on the basis of a self-reported direct relationship of the suicide attempt with the COVID-19 pandemic or the imposed lockdown. Results: The rates of suicide attempts in toxicological patients over the years ranged 68.18–75.3%. The patients were predominantly female, with age between M±SD 33.2±16.9 and 36.0±16.4. Each year, over 60% of patients were admitted during their first attempt and were treated psychiatrically prior to their attempt, with differences observed in the COVID-19-related group. The alcohol intoxication during the suicide attempt was confirmed in 37.40–43.53% of the patients, with a higher rate of 52.50% observed in the COVID-19-related group. The main self-reported reason for the suicide was a romantic relationship conflict or breakup, and a conflict and/or violence in the family. The most frequent agents were over-the-counter painkillers, antidepressants, antipsychotics and benzodiazepines or Z-drugs. Conclusions: During the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a fall of suicide attempts by self-poisonings in northern Poland, significant only in the case of women. The self-reported reasons were similar in all years, with mainly minor changes. There was also an increase in attempts made using benzodiazepines or Z-drugs seen in 2020 and in the COVID-19-related group. The authors believe that there is a need for multi-center, large-scale prospective studies that would provide better insight into the pandemic-related suicidal trends. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2022;35(5):527–35