Australia: self-poisoning in children doubles in 10 years

11 April 2019

The number of Australian children intentionally poisoning themselves with drugs such as paracetamol and antidepressants has doubled in the past decade, say scientists.

More children are poisoning themselves from a younger age, and girls outnumber boys three to one.

Researchers from the University of Sydney analysed 70% of calls made to poison information centres between 2006 and 2016, and found 33,501 deliberate poisonings in children and young people aged between five and 19. The study, published in BMJ Open, said: ‘Our results indicate a generation that is increasingly engaging in self-harm... Since people who self-harm are at an increased risk of suicide later in life, these results may foretell future increases in suicide rates.’

Researchers also found large increases in the prescribing of psychotropic medications to children, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, which had been used to overdose.

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