Repeated suicide attempts by the intravenous injection of elemental mercury

Int J Psychiatry Med. 1988;18(2):153-67. doi: 10.2190/4j1d-n0b6-f8dk-a4h9.


The case of a patient who repeatedly injected himself intravenously with elementary mercury in suicide attempts is presented and the toxicological effects of this chemical form and route of exposure of mercury are examined. A review of the literature reveals that elemental mercury, when injected as opposed to inhaled, causes few of the effects typical of mercurialism; pleuritic chest pain was frequently reported, whereas renal and central nervous system involvement were less common. Evidence of premorbid psychiatric disturbances was found in ten of fourteen non-cardiac catheterization exposures to intravenous elemental mercury. Findings in our patient were consistent with these observations. One additional and noteworthy finding in our case was that documented deposits of elemental mercury in the right parietal lobe of the brain did not correlate with any specific deficits on neuropsychological testing. Consultation-liaison psychiatry plays an important role in the treatment and care of these complex patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chest Pain / chemically induced
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Mercury / administration & dosage*
  • Mercury Poisoning / complications
  • Parietal Lobe / drug effects
  • Suicide, Attempted*


  • Mercury