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This is a report of clinical and epidemiological trends in parasuicide in Edinburgh and Oxford over the period of 1976 to 1984. Rates of parasuicide declined in both cities, but more markedly among women than men. Male rates tended to be higher in Edinburgh and female rates higher in Oxford. Age-specific rates were similar for the two cities in 1983-84, with peak rates for females among 15-19 year olds and those for males among 20-24 year olds in Edinburgh and 25-34 year olds in Oxford. Parasuicide incidence was higher in lower social class groups and among the unemployed in both cities. During the study period there was a massive decline in barbiturate overdoses, a more modest decline in minor tranquillizer overdoses but, in Oxford, a marked increase in self-poisoning with paracetamol. By the end of the study period the proportion of patients receiving a diagnosis of drug addiction had doubled in Edinburgh, although it had remained fairly constant in Oxford. There were differences in patterns of aftercare offered to patients in the two cities; these almost certainly reflect differing clinical policies.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Med

Publication Date





405 - 418


Adolescent, Adult, Cross-Cultural Comparison, Cross-Sectional Studies, England, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Risk Factors, Scotland, Self-Injurious Behavior, Suicide, Suicide, Attempted