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UK hospitals report dramatic rise in self-poisonings

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 10:31 EDT
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Self-poisonings resulting in hospital admissions rose more than 50 precent over the last decade in the U.K., according to new figures from Britain’s National Health Service. The British Red Cross targeted young people in a new campaign warning of the dangers of self-poisoning and offering first aid information for cases of self-harm.

The BBC reported that in 2011 alone, more than 114,000 people required hospital admission after deliberately overdosing on drugs or taking other poisons. That’s up from 79,000 in 2001.

A report from the British Pharmacological Society called “The Epidemiology of Self-Poisoning” said that as far back as 2003, victims of self-poisoning were among the most-hospitalized people in that country. The Red Cross is trying to spread information to young people about what to do if they find someone who has deliberately poisoned themselves.

“What? When? How much? Dial 999,” say posters promoting the awareness campaign, meaning that anyone who finds a person who has self-poisoned should attempt to find out what they took, how long ago they took it and how much of it they took, then call for medical help.

Paul Donnelly of the Red Cross told the BBC, “Self-poisoning is one of the biggest issues when it comes to self-harm. Hospital admissions are going up all the time and we want to provide young people with first aid information.”

A survey by the British Red Cross said that 42 percent of young people in the U.K. know someone who has self-harmed. Amy Ratnett, 28, told the BBC that her first self-poisoning was a suicide attempt.

“My first time was a suicide attempt. I really wanted to die, but after that I started taking overdoses as a form of self-harm,” she said. “I would come home from work on a Friday evening, take an overdose, call an ambulance, spend the weekend in hospital and then go back to work on a Monday as if nothing had happened.”

Now, she said, “I never want to go through that pain again, or put my family through that again.”

To other people who might be struggling with issues of self-harm and poisoning, Ratlett said, “You’re not alone, and there is support out there. You don’t have to get through this by yourself.”

[image via Shutterstock.com]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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