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Responding to the rising number of suicides using barbiturates

Bridin P Murnion and Darren M Roberts
Med J Aust 2022; 216 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51409
Published online: 7 March 2022

Suicide prevention requires ensuring that social media are responsible and accountable, and that poisoning surveillance systems are adequately supported

Barbiturates have a narrow therapeutic index, and accidental or deliberate poisoning can cause coma and cardiorespiratory arrest. Barbiturate‐related death rates were high in the mid‐20th century, when barbiturates were still commonly prescribed, but safer alternatives mean that clinical indications for prescribing them are now extremely limited.1 Over the past twenty years, however, interest in barbiturates has increased, particularly in their use at the end of life.2

  • Bridin P Murnion1,2
  • Darren M Roberts3,4

  • 1 Western Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
  • 3 Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, Sydney, NSW
  • 4 Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW



Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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