Toxicology of suicide cases in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 2017 to 2019

Franck et al.


To describe the toxicology of suicide cases recorded in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, from 2017 to 2019.


The present descriptive, cross-sectional study examined all the medico-legal reports and police records related to suicide deaths in the state. Multiple correspondence analyses were performed along with independent logistic regression models having ethanol, anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs, illicit drugs, and non-medical substances as dependent variables.


Ethanol was investigated in 2 978 samples, with positive results in 28.5%. The odds of a positive ethanol finding were 0.5 time higher (95%CI: 1.1; 2.2) for suicides occurring at night, 1.0 (95%CI: 1.4; 2.9) time higher for suicides occurring on weekends, and 0.9 (95%CI: 1.3; 2.7) time higher in individuals with a prior criminal record. Investigation of psychotropic drugs (2 900 samples) was positive in 30.4% samples. Anxiolytics were the most common medication detected, with 1.5 (95%CI: 1.6; 4.1) time higher odds of occurrence in women and 0.8 time higher odds (95%CI: 1.2; 2.7) for suicides occurring in the fall-winter. The odds of detecting illicit drugs (n = 338) were 4.1 times higher (95%CI: 1.9; 14.4) in the regions of Pelotas (south of the state) vs. Passo Fundo (north), and 1.2 (95%CI: 1.3; 3.6) time higher in cases with positive ethanol results, without significant difference between adolescents and adults.


Despite the lack of evidence on causality, the present results support a link between suicide and several psychoactive drugs. Medico-legal experts should be guided regarding the need to perform toxicological tests in all suicide cases.

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