Oklahoma Poison Center Reports Spike in Poisonings With Self-harm Intent Among Adolescent Girls

Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Oklahoma City - The Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information has reported a spike in poisonings among adolescent girls. During the first 10 days of February, the Poison Center saw an alarming 51 cases, over twice as many as compared to the previous 10-day period. 

While the types of medication taken varied, many of these poisonings included over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. These medicines are common in most households, and the accessibility can make them easy to take in large amounts.

Seeing an increase in the number of cases and the severity of exposures in Oklahoma is concerning. Scott Schaeffer, managing director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, reported that the jump in exposures mirrors alarming reports of an increase in self-harm attempts reported by poison centers across the country. 

 “An additional issue is that many people don’t know that taking too much of an OTC pain reliever can have life-threatening consequences,” said Schaeffer.

The Poison Center encourages continued conversations in communities about medication safety and depression.

•    Families and care givers should keep medications, including OTC pain relievers, locked up and away. 
•    Teach adolescents how to properly take OTC medications.
•    Have a family conversation about the dangers of misusing medications. 
•    Remove old or unnecessary medications from the home.
•    Safely dispose of unwanted or expired medications. 
•    Take threats and discussions about self-harm seriously. 

If you are depressed or in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention lifeline 24 hours a day at (800) 273-8255.  Call the Poison Center with any questions or concerns regarding medications, and don’t forget to text “POISON” to 797979 to have the Oklahoma Poison Center number easily saved to your cell phone.

Pharmacists and registered nurses at the Poison Center are available 24 hours a day seven days a week at (800) 222-1222. Please do not email the Poison Center or members of the Poison Center staff, as poisoning emergencies are not handled through email.


The University of Oklahoma College offers the Doctor of Pharmacy professional degree program and graduate programs in the Pharmaceutical Sciences leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Since 1896, the College of Pharmacy has had more than 5,300 graduates.

OU Health is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system of hospitals, clinics and centers of excellence. With 11,000 employees and more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practice providers, OU Health is home to Oklahoma’s largest doctor network with a complete range of specialty care. OU Health serves Oklahoma and the region with the state’s only freestanding children’s hospital, the only National Cancer Institute-Designated OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center and Oklahoma’s flagship hospital, which serves as the state’s only Level 1 trauma center. Becker’s Hospital Review named University of Oklahoma Medical Center one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America for 2020. OU Health’s oncology program at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center was named Oklahoma’s top facility for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020-21 rankings. OU Health also was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as high performing in these specialties: Colon Surgery, COPD and Congestive Heart Failure. OU Health’s mission is to lead healthcare in patient care, education and research. To learn more, visit ouhealth.com.