Self-poisonings before and during the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic in northern Poland
More details
Hide details
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
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.