GEORGE E. MURPHY, M.D.
A series of individuals who committed suicide by overdose of medication was matched for age, sex, and marital status with individuals who committed suicide by other means in the same time period. Somewhat more of those who died by overdose had been under the recent care of a physician (91% versus 71%). Over half of those who died by overdose had received a prescription within a week or less before dying or had an unlimited prescription for a fully lethal amount of the hypnotic substance ingested. Individuals receiving smaller prescriptions (less than a total of 1.5 g secobarbital or the equivalent) either augmented this supply with other medications available or used something else entirely. Thus, in over half the cases, the physician supplied the complete means for suicide in a single prescription. The availability of a recently prescribed lethal amount of medication strikingly distinguished the ingesters from the noningester controls.
MURPHY GE. The Physician's Responsibility for Suicide. I. An Error of Commission. Ann Intern Med. 1975;82:301–304. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-82-3-301
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1975;82(3):301-304.
Emergency Medicine, Hospital Medicine.
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