Characteristics and psychopathology of 1,086 patients who self-poisoned using pesticides in Taiwan (2012–2019): A comparison across pesticide groups

Chao Ying Tu, Tzung Hai Yen, Chia Ming Chang, Hsien Yi Chen, Yung Chieh Yen, Ming Chao Guo, Tsung Hua Lu, Chi Shin Wu, I. Ming Chen, Hai Ching Cheng, Wei Lieh Huang, Cheng Che Chen, Michael Eddleston, Shu Sen Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Previous studies, mainly from low- and middle-income settings, showed that pesticide self-poisonings were mostly impulsive with low levels of psychopathology. We aimed to investigate whether pesticide self-poisoning in a high-income country showed similar profiles, and whether those with certain characteristics and psychopathology were more likely to use specific pesticides. Methods Data were extracted from hospital records of pesticide self-poisoning patients treated at eight major hospitals in Taiwan between 2012 and 2019. Multinomial logistic regression was used to investigate the association of interpersonal conflicts, triggers of self-poisoning, and psychopathology with the groups of pesticides ingested. Results A total of 1,086 patients who self-poisoned using pesticides were identified; 67.0% were male and 39.8% aged 65+ years. Approximately three quarters (75.7%) of patients who received psychiatric assessment had at least one psychiatric diagnosis, and the prevalence was 48.3% in all patients. No association was found between the pesticide groups ingested and interpersonal conflicts, most of the triggers, past psychiatric service use, or having psychiatric diagnoses. Limitations Data were collected from hospital records retrospectively. Only 60.3% of the patients received a psychiatric assessment. Conclusions The majority of patients who self-poisoned using pesticides and received psychiatric assessment in Taiwan had psychiatric illness. Patients who ingested different groups of pesticides were similar in their characteristics. The choice of pesticides used in self-poisoning more likely relates to availability rather than intentional selection. Psychiatric assessment and treatment are important in patients who self-poisoned using pesticides, while restricting access to highly hazardous pesticides is likely to prevent many deaths from pesticide self-poisoning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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