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Pharmacopsychiatry. 1994 May;27(3):114-8.

Suicide with psychotropic drugs in Switzerland.

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Psychiatrische Universitätspoliklinik, Bern, Switzerland.


All suicides in Switzerland in 1990 where drugs were involved (179 persons; 12.2% of all suicides) were analyzed by examination of death certificates and direct contacts with physicians and medico-legal institutions. Nearly 50% of these people took overdoses of combinations of different drugs and in 26% of the cases alcohol was reported to have been taken with the drugs. Unexpectedly, we found 29 suicides in which persons had obviously used drug combinations recommended by EXIT, an organization advocating the freedom of the individual to decide about his own time and nature of death. In EXIT-suicides usually barbiturates and anticholinergic drugs were taken together. Interestingly, the barbiturate compound used most often had officially been withdrawn from the market the previous year. Altogether, psychotropic drugs represented 78.7% of all drugs taken, with benzodiazepines being named most often (38.9%), followed by barbiturates (16.6%) and antidepressants (13.6%). Among the benzodiazepines flunitrazepam, diazepam, and triazolam were used most often and surprisingly, benzodiazepines were named as single drugs on 27 death certificates. Among the antidepressants (taken in 20.3% of overdoses) maprotiline was the most common drug used, followed by mianserin and trimipramine. This order of frequency reflects the prescribing habits of Swiss doctors. Two suicides were recorded with neuroleptics alone.

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