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OBJECTIVES: To examine the incidence of suicides due to co-proxamol compared with tricyclic antidepressants and paracetamol, and to compare fatality rates for self poisonings with these drugs. DESIGN: Analysis of routinely collected national and local data on suicides and self poisonings. SETTING: Records of suicides in England and Wales 1997-9; non-fatal self poisonings in Oxford District 1997-9. DATA SOURCES: Office for National Statistics and Oxford monitoring system for attempted suicide. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incidence of suicides with co-proxamol or tricyclic antidepressants or paracetamol. Ratios of fatal to non-fatal self poisonings. RESULTS: Co-proxamol alone accounted for 5% of all suicides. Of 4162 drug related suicides, 18% (766) involved co-proxamol alone, 22% (927) tricyclic antidepressants alone, and 9% (368) paracetamol alone. A higher proportion of suicides in the 10-24 year age group were due to co-proxamol than in the other age groups. The odds of dying after overdose with co-proxamol was 2.3 times (95% confidence interval 2.1 to 2.5) that for tricyclic antidepressants and 28.1 times (24.9 to 32.9) that for paracetamol. CONCLUSIONS: Self poisoning with co-proxamol is particularly dangerous and contributes substantially to drug related suicides. Restricting availability of co-proxamol could have an important role in suicide prevention.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1006 - 1008


Acetaminophen, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Analgesics, Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic, Child, Dextropropoxyphene, Drug Combinations, England, Female, Humans, Incidence, Male, Middle Aged, Poisoning, Poisson Distribution, Regression Analysis, Suicide, Survival Rate, Wales