Characteristics of overdose and non-overdose suicide attempts in a multi-ethnic Asian society

Asian J Psychiatr. 2013 Oct;6(5):373-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2013.03.011. Epub 2013 May 7.


Background: Overdosing is an accessible method adopted by people attempting suicide in city settings.

Aims: This study aimed to compare the trends and characteristics of people attempting suicide by drug overdose and by other methods in Singapore.

Methods: This study examined the medical records of 628 patients who were admitted to a university hospital in Singapore, between January 2004 and December 2006. Patients were classified as overdose and non-overdose persons attempting suicide for comparisons of demographic and suicidal characteristics. Logistic regression was used to determine the odds ratios of various factors associated with self-perceived lethality of the suicide attempt. Patterns of monthly and weekly variations in the frequencies of suicide attempts were also analyzed.

Results: The percentages of Chinese people was higher in the non-overdose group (71.5% vs. 62.9%), while the percentages of Malay and Indian people were higher in the overdose group (31.6% vs. 18.5%). The female gender (OR=0.36, p=0.04) and admission of suicide intention (OR=7.11, p<0.001) were significantly associated with higher perceived lethality of the suicide method in the non-overdose group. Suicide attempts occurred more frequently between May and November, and on Tuesdays.

Conclusions: Gender and ethnic differences between overdose and non-overdose people attempting suicide were found. Temporal variations of suicidal cases were also noted.

Keywords: Ethnicity; Overdose; Singapore; Suicide.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • China / ethnology
  • Drug Overdose / epidemiology*
  • Drug Overdose / ethnology
  • Drug Overdose / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / ethnology
  • Malaysia / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Singapore / epidemiology
  • Singapore / ethnology
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide, Attempted / ethnology
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult