Suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning in South Korea: 2006-2012

Young Rim Choi, Eun Shil Cha, Shu Sen Chang, Young Ho Khang, Won Jin Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Backgrounds Suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning by burning coal briquette or barbecue charcoal increased rapidly in some East Asian countries in the recent decade. The purpose of this study was to examine trends in suicides from carbon monoxide poisoning in South Korea and their epidemiologic characteristics. Methods We presented age-standardized mortality rates of carbon monoxide suicide and compared them with those of suicide by other methods using registered death data from Statistics Korea (South Korea) from 2006 to 2012. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to estimate odds ratios of carbon monoxide suicide by socio-demographic characteristics before and after the marked increase in carbon monoxide suicide in September 2008. Results The number of carbon monoxide suicides in South Korea was only 34 in 2006 but rapidly increased to 267 in 2008 and was 1125 in 2012, with the age-standardized rates of 0.06 (2006), 0.48 (2008), and 1.97 (2012) per 100,000 population respectively (a striking 3,183% increase in 2006-2012). Suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning showed greater odds ratios among men, younger age groups, single or the divorced, and those with high education and non-manual jobs compared with suicides by other methods. Limitations This study only used data for fatal self-poisoning by carbon monoxide (non-fatal cases not included) and had no information on the sources of carbon monoxide. Conclusions Carbon monoxide suicides substantially increased in South Korea over the relatively short study period and showed some distinct socio-demographic characteristics compared with suicides by other methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-325
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Oct 1


  • Coal briquette
  • Copycat
  • Epidemic
  • Intentional poisoning
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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