Given the popularity of drug-related poisoning as a method of suicide, it may be of interest to read information on the most popular drugs used.

We present below figures from the UK Office of National Statistics for drug-related deaths where just one substance was mentioned. It should be noted that many deaths involve a combination of drugs – in around a third of deaths, more than one drug is mentioned on the death certificate, and in around a quarter, alcohol was mentioned along with one of the drugs.

It should also be noted that only a proportion of these deaths will be due to deliberate self-harm, and many are accidental overdose.

Nevertheless, the figures do give a feel for what drugs people have taken to kill themselves. As mentioned elsewhere on this site (see Drug poisoning), suicide by drug overdose is notoriously unreliable, with the vast majority being unsuccessful. Calculating minimum lethal doses is likewise very difficult (see Drug minimum lethal doses for further information).

Drug-related deaths where selected substances were mentioned without other drugs, England and Wales 20111

  No. %
Class A drugs    
Heroin and morphine 332 20.1%
Methadone 231 14.0%
Cocaine 34 2.1%
Amitriptyline (Tricyclic antidepressant) 59 3.6%
Dothiepin (Tricyclic antidepressant) 28 1.7%
Other Tricyclic antidepressants 10 0.6%
Citalopram (SSRI antidepressant) 23 1.4%
Other selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors 16 1.0%
Other antidepressants 22 1.3%
Insomnia medications    
Diazepam 4 0.2%
Temazepam 8 0.5%
Other benzodiazepines 10 0.6%
Zopiclone/zolpidem 20 1.2%
Pain relief    
Tramadol 64 3.9%
Dihydrocodeine 46 2.8%
Codeine 23 1.4%
Other opiates 144 8.7%
Paracetamol 89 5.4%
MDMA/ecstasy 7 0.4%
Other amphetamines 26 1.6%
Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) / Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) 10 0.6%
Cannabis 1 0.1%
Aspirin 2 0.1%
Barbiturates 28 1.7%
Cathinones 2 0.1%
Antipsychotics 48 2.9%
Helium 39 2.4%
Others (incl. Insulin) 323 19.6%
Total 1,649  



  1. Office for National Statistics, Deaths related to drug poisoning, England and Wales 2011, table 6b: Number of drug-related deaths where selected substances were mentioned without other drugs.