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December 1967

Suicide Attempts With Psychotherapeutic Drugs

Author Affiliations

Portland, Ore
From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oregon Medical School, Portland.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(6):652-657. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730300012003

THE sobering thought that in the United States one in three suicides kill themselves with a drug prescribed by a physician should make the physician aware that, whether he desires it or not, he is involved ethically and emotionally with an increasing number of suicides wherein the victims are using an agent obtained from him. Furthermore, a large percentage of suicide attempts are impulsive acts, the success of which depends on the amount of agent used. The physician cannot control the patient's accumulation of drugs, but he has some control over how much might be dispensed at one time.

The overwhelming majority of medications used in suicide attempts fall into two groups: barbiturate and nonbarbiturate sedative-hypnotics, and psychotherapeutic drugs. The latter include major and minor tranquilizers and antidepressants. It is the purpose of this paper to discuss the commonly used psychotherapeutic drugs and