Drugs and violent death: comparative toxicology of homicide and non-substance toxicity suicide victims
Article first published online: 6 MAY 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 104, Issue 6, pages 1000–1005, June 2009
How to Cite
Darke, S., Duflou, J. and Torok, M. (2009), Drugs and violent death: comparative toxicology of homicide and non-substance toxicity suicide victims. Addiction, 104: 1000–1005. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02565.x
- Issue published online: 6 MAY 2009
- Article first published online: 6 MAY 2009
- Submitted 11 August 2008; initial review completed 16 December 2008; final version accepted 6 February 2009
Aims To determine the comparative toxicology of death by homicide and suicide by means other than substance toxicity.
Design Cross-sectional (autopsy reports).
Setting Sydney, Australia.
Cases A total of 1723 cases of violent death were identified, comprising 478 homicide (HOM) cases and 1245 non-substance toxicity suicide (SUI) cases.
Findings Substances were detected in 65.5% of cases, and multiple substances in 25.8%, with no group differences. Illicit drugs were detected in 23.9% of cases, and multiple illicit in 5.3%. HOM cases were significantly more likely to have an illicit drug [odds ratio (OR) 2.09] and multiple illicits (OR 2.94), detected, HOM cases being more likely to have cannabis (OR 2.39), opioids (OR 1.53) and psychostimulants (OR 1.59) present. HOM cases were, however, significantly less likely to have benzodiazepines (OR 0.53), antidepressants (OR 0.22) and antipsychotics (OR 0.23) present. Alcohol was present in 39.6% of cases (median blood alcohol concentration = 0.12), with no group difference in prevalence.
Conclusions The role drugs play in premature death extends far beyond overdose and disease, with illicit drugs associated strongly with homicide.