Sex- and Age-specific Increases in Suicide Attempts by Self-Poisoning in the United States among Youth and Young Adults from 2000 to 2018

J Pediatr. 2019 Jul;210:201-208. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.02.045. Epub 2019 May 1.


Objective: To evaluate the incidence and outcomes from intentional suspected-suicide self-poisoning in children and young adults ages 10-24 years old from 2000 to 2018.

Study design: Retrospective review of intentional suspected-suicide self-poisoning cases reported to the National Poison Data System from US poison centers from 2000 to 2018 for patients 10-24 years old. For comparison of annual rates, population data by year of age were obtained from the US Census Bureau. We evaluated changes in the annual incidence, the annual rate per 100 000 population, and the medical outcome by patient age and sex.

Results: There were 1 627 825 intentional suspected-suicide self-poisoning cases, of which 1 162 147 (71%) were female. In children 10-15 years old from 2000 to 2010, there was a decrease in number and rate per 100 000 population followed by a significant increase (from 125% to 299%) from 2011 to 2018. In children 10-18 years old, the increase from 2011 to 2018 was driven predominantly by females. In 19-24 years old age groups, there was a temporal delay and reduced increase in slope compared with the younger groups. There were 340 563 moderate outcomes, 45 857 major outcomes, and 1404 deaths. The percentage of cases with a serious outcome, major effect, or death increased over time and with age.

Conclusions: The incidence and rate of suicide attempts using self-poisoning in children less than 19 years old increased significantly after 2011, occurring predominantly in young girls. There has been an increase in the severity of outcomes independent of age or sex.

Keywords: poison centers; poisoning; social media; suicide.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Poison Control Centers
  • Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / trends*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult