Memory Impairment in Those Who Attempted Suicide by Benzodiazepine Overdose
J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(6):456-459
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Background: A prospective study was conducted to
investigate the presence of anterograde amnesia in those who
attempted suicide by benzodiazepine overdose and to study the
correlation with sedation.
Method: In 43 patients who attempted suicide by
taking benzodiazepines, memory was tested with a 15-word memory
recall task. The immediate and delayed recall on the first day
after admission (day 1) and 24 hours later (day 2) were rated.
Each patient and the interviewer scored the patient's degree of
sedation on a visual analogue scale. Patients also had to try to
recognize, from photographs, the psychiatrist with whom they had
spoken the day before.
Results: The ratings of immediate and delayed
recall were significantly lower on day 1 than on day 2.
Subjective ratings of sedation of the patients were not
significantly higher than the ratings of the observer. Less than
half of the patients recognized the psychiatrists and knew that
they were the ones they had spoken to the day before.
Conclusion: Anterograde amnesia is present in
suicide attempters who take overdoses of benzodiazepines. The
implications of this finding for the assessment of suicide
attempters during admission are discussed.