§ Mr. Viggers
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information she has on the number of suicides and suicide attempts arising from overdoses of paracetemol in the latest period for which figures are available.
§ Mr. Sackville
The latest available figures for the number of people who have been recorded as having committed suicide and where paracetemol is mentioned in the records is shown in table 1. Table 2 combines the information provided in table 1 with statistics on the number of people where paracetemol is mentioned in the records and where it was undetermined whether death was accidentally or purposely inflicted. Information on the number of people who have attempted suicide by use of paracetemol is not available centrally.
A recent article1 published by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys in conjunction with the Department of Health and the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, suggests that a significant number of the undetermined deaths are in fact suicides. A copy of this article is available in the Library.1 Charlton J, Kelly S, Evans B, Jenkins R, Wallis R, (1992). Trends in suicide deaths in England and Wales. Population Trends, 69 10–16.
Table 1 Numbers of recorded deaths from suicide where paracetamol is mentioned in the records. England and Wales, 1990, persons only Total Paracetamol 101 (51) Paracetamol Prothiaden 1 Paracetamol Salicylate (NOS) 1 Paracetamol Temazepam Tricyclic Anti Depressant (NOS) 1 Paracetamol Triazolam 1 Paracetamol Warfarin 1
Table 2 Numbers of recorded deaths from suicide and undetermined whether accidentally or purposely inflicted where paracetamol is mentioned in the records. England and Wales, 1990, persons only Total Paracetamol 185 (131) Paracetamol Propoxyphene 5 (11) Paracetamol Propranolol 1 Paracetamol Prothiaden 1 Paracetamol Salicylate (NOS) 5 (11) Paracetamol Temazepam Tricyclic Anti Depressant (NOS) 1 Paracetamol Triazolam 1 Paracetamol Warfarin 1 Paracetamol Verapamil 1 1 Number of deaths with mention of alcohol. NOS Not otherwise stated.
The inclusion of a substance in this list does not imply that it is necessarily toxic. Where two or more substances 238W are mentioned together the contribution, if any, of each to the death is unknown; even where one substance is listed alone there may well be other factors with an important bearing on the death.