Monday, July 24, 2006

But its just Paracetamol

In the past 2 days I have been to 3 deliberate Paracetamol overdoses. These people had each taken between 50 and 300 paracetamol tablets. They all were trying to get the attention of somebody; a girlfriend, a husband, a son whoever. I am convinced that not one of these people actually wanted to die. I’m also sure it all seemed like a good idea at the time. Paracetamol is commonly ingested in the mistaken belief that it is a “safe” drug to overdose on. Its readily available, it’s cheap and it doesn’t do any harm. Right? Wrong.

Overdosing on Paracetamol damages your liver. It won’t kill you right away but you can expect several increasingly miserable days before you succumb to its effects. There is a very narrow window of time in which the available treatment for Paracetamol overdose is effective. Unfortunately 2 of the three cases I attended had missed this window by many, many hours and it is now just a case of waiting to see how much liver damage has occurred and whether it is going to be fatal. I really doubt this was what these people had in mind when they reached for the packet.

Today I found myself standing at hospital, counting empty blister packs from common household pain relief medications and listening to a distrught teenager hearing the bad news from a doctor about what she had actually done. A big dose of cold, hard reality. You can be sure that argument she had with her boyfriend last night was suddenly seeming pretty trivial.

EDIT: September 2011 - this particular post for some reason is getting a lot of hits from all over the world. Having read a lot of the search terms being used to find this post, I have great concerns that what is written here must give the right message. If you or someone you know is considering harming themselves, pick up the phone, talk to somebody, get some help. Please.

28 comments:

Sharon from NY said...

For those readers in the U.S...... "Paracetamol" is Acetaminophen... more commonly known by the trade name "Tylenol". ( I had to go look it up, from the description I thought that might be what it was, but I wasn't sure) Thanks for the continuing terrific blog!

Anonymous said...

Here in the UK, the sale of Paracetamol has been restricted so a person may only buy upto 32 at any one time. This was probably intended to limit the number of these incidents.

Alison said...

This is why the internet is useful. I found out about what aspirin and paracetamol do to you by reading the FAQ for alt.suicide.holiday (long story, OK?) And yeah, it's a really shitty way to go.

Argh, hopefully their livers aren't too damaged and they will recover.

Sage said...

Not a good way to go; and a cry for help that is going to backfire miserably on the patient, their families and loved ones. I wish there was a better way to get help than try the drug overdose especially with paracetomol. It has its uses, and therefore wouldn't want to see it withdrawn, but perhaps we should be a bit more graphic about the warnings over taken them incorrectly.

olivia said...

A friend of mine died of a paracetamol overdose 20 years ago - not a pretty or pleasant way to go.

rob said...

Update: I managed to follow up yesterday on one of the people I transported to hospital and found out he was discharged after a some days worth of treatment. Apparently he is looking like he'll be ok physically. He had drunk a lot of alcohol with his his pills and there is a theory that concurrent ingestion of alcohol may block some of the absorbtion of the drug. regardless, I am glad he is ok.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about not wanting to die, I have had 3 intentional overdoses in 3 shifts, the last had taken 40 citalopram. He said he didn't want to die, just wanted help!

Defibrilator said...

Hmmm. Not a way I'd choose to go. Just had an argument about suicide. I stated the statistical fact that shiela's "attempt" it far more that guys it's just that guys don't "attempt" it - they choose far more graphic and surer(sp.) ways. Being right doesn't help when you are amoungst a bunch of half cut chicks. But being good looking does ;-P


Defib :-P

Anonymous said...

i know someone who took 6 paracetamol 5 ibuproen and 2 aspirin on the tuesday andthen on the friday took 14 paracetamol now thier worried whether it will damage their insides

Anonymous said...

right so i am actually one of those people who have attempted to overdose on paracetamol...and i actually had every intention of taking my life and was not attention seeking! And yes i was one of the lucky people who managed to get treatment before my liver could completely fail. they put you on drips and make you drink ground charcoal...i cant explain how much pain emotionally and physically i was going through. That must be one of the worst ways to die EVER! i wouldnt wish that on my worst enemy! now i find i cant handle as much alcohol as i used to...what i want to know is how permanent is the damage and should i be drinking at all!?

Anonymous said...

I was drinking quite heavily yesterday and then consumed 5 paracetomol tablets at once. Have i got anything to worry about?

Anonymous said...

My brother took a paracetomol overdose tonight and I just wanted to say thanks for letting me know more about it. Thankfully, he only took ten tablets and I think it was probably a cry for help rather than anything else, but still the fact that he did it in the first place is upsetting. Anyway, thanks again and please keep up the good work. I found it greatly comforting.

Anonymous said...

My Brother 16 in a couple of days, took an overdose of 80 tablets (Paracetamol), it is now the 3rd day after the fact - he is in hospital and Deteriorating rapidly - I dont know the medical term but the "ezyme" count in his liver should be between 40 and 60 on the second day it was 400 it has now gone up to over 2000 and if it keeps rising tommorrow, it means liver failure and transplant - if we are able to do that. All we can do is hope and pray at this point. It is not a pleasant thing to put yourself through as a cry for help - he has difficulty breathing as well as enormous abdominal pain.

Anonymous said...

I dont really understand it here in the uk you can only buy 32 tablets form one shop for safety reasons but if u really wanted to kill yourself you would just buy one packet form loads of different shops? wouldnt you??

Hayley said...

Sorry but these comments are very judgemental.

I mean sometimes it's a cry for help other times it isn't you shouldn't be so overwhelmed by this if you actually listened and helped them instead of talking about it maybe they would be better off, how judgemental are people nowadays.

And I wonder why overdoses are more common than ever it's because of individuals with limited understanding of what that person was going through at that particular point in time.

I nearly died from a panadol overdose, but seriously is there any reason to judge, allot of society today is just fake and miserable such as facebook and the like, I'm 20 years old from Australia and the world has gone beyond bloody selfish maybe think about that when these people overdose on such drugs.

katie said...

this actually really helped me. i am sitting here with 50 paracetamol. i wont take them. no matter how shit my life is right now. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately since the UK is such a punitive society, prohibiting anything that might actually help you get through thiis miserable existence there is little alternative to using paracetamol. Now if you could actually get hold of enough codeine/insulin....

Anonymous said...

I took spprox 100 ibuprofin and made an appointment with my doctor who said no no this cant kill you. He did say paracetamol can. About 5 yrs later I took about 20 paracetamol with alchohol and went to hospital where they put me on a drip and relased me after about 10hrs. I told them I would do it again they didnt beleive me and didnt admit me. Now about 5yrs later I took lemsip with 1000mg of paracetamol on saturday and then on sunday took lemsip with 100mg, plus 3 x lemsip with 650mg and about 2 aspirin extra which contain paracetamol all at once followed by about another 4 in spaces of about 30mins. I'm not going to seak help, if i survive i survive if i dont - i dont. It is down to my faith but one way or another......things will change

Anonymous said...

There is a terrible shortage of hospital beds, nurses and doctors in Australia. If you can't stop overdosing for your own sake, how about you stop it for the people who are actually in need of medical attention through no fault of their own? As for the fake facebook world... shut down your facebook account. I did 6 months ago and have never been happier.

Anonymous said...

i want to die and this seems to be the only way i can do it will it kill me im sitting here now waiting to do it

Anonymous said...

I want to die, I've wanted to die for a very long time, no one understands that though, for the last week I have went round shops to collect paracetamol and I now have about 100 tablets I'm 15 years old, I'm ready to go and reading this hasn't changed anything

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Anonymous said...

Ive tryed overdoses with vodka dont work also slit my throat deep 3 weeks ago now they say im not drepressed ive got personally disorder

Anonymous said...

I want to overdose, I tried using sleeping tablets several months back, however it didn't work as I didn't research how many I would actually need for this to occur. I have a packet of 20 panadol tablets, and another packet of 30, so 50 tablets altogether. I weigh 56kgs and I'm a 16yo female, would this kill me, or would I need more? What would the affects be if I only took one of the packets? This is not a cry for help, I want to die. I have already tried to drown myself, jump from a bridge (only to be pulled back by the police), slit my wrist deep (where I was admitted to emergency) and roll a car, hoping to be killed. This is not for attention, I purely need to know.

Anonymous said...

I dont want to die. I just want to hurt myself not permanently just for that moment. I dont want to cut myself though. I like/dislike the feeling of internal pain. Though i took an accidental speed overdose only Saturday night/sunday morning and felt terrified i was going to die. I had this enormous abdominal pain i didn't like it at the time really cuz i thought i was going to die but when i called down from my panic attack i liked it. Ive taken about 7 paracetamol im drinking wine and i haven't ate all day its giving me abit of pain which i nice i can keep it to myself. But after reading this i will not take anymore paracetamol maybe one or 2 later though to keep the dull pain. IM not sure why i want to do it, maybe cuz i really like my alcohol i like the feeling it gives me. Yet i live with my mother and we argue everytime because im nit allowed to drink at home. She cant see the paracetamol does anyone know a unharmful way to harm yourself? Crazy question but its real
thanks

Anonymous said...

What if you survive this and then your life will be even worse than it is now don't do this I'm reading this also because I was thinking of using paracetamol to take my life but I realised it was just me thinking about how shit things are right now but then I think about the good things all of your friends and family would be devastated.

Beck said...

I suffer from clinical depression. It is well controlled with sertraline. Took 17 tablets years ago because I just wanted to feel better. Went to hospital and had IM injection of metoclopramide to stop the vomiting. Heart rate was up; BP was 180/90. Had a massive headache. got up in the morning and discharged myself, didn't sleep at all. Today I was so tempted to cut myself (haven't done this for 14 years. I have chronic back pain; sciatica; thoracic scoliosis; and bursisis in my shoulder; lower back pain that they can't seem to find a reason for. Doc says to take 8 Panadol per day; 3 doses of Ibuprofen (300mg); and now has started me on Pregablin (75mg). That's 13 tablets per day and I'm still in pain, it is driving me mad. Occasionally I take 12 paracetamol. Was going to take a couple more until I saw this website. I know about the cases where it has led to death; and it must be a horrible way to die. I just want relief from the pain. Don't know how I can live my whole life in this pain all the time. Doctors would rather fill you up with crap; why are they so afraid to prescribe strong pain relief. Addiction is unavoidable with these drugs; but isn't it worth it just to have some quality of life?

Innocent F said...

This post makes it sound like if I'd take 80 cocodamol I wouldn't die.
That just makes me sad. i need to know that I have a way, that isn't instant so that people wouldn't need to be hurt by the fact I've killed myself. I don't know. This blog is probably meant to positive.