Due to the stigma associated with drug use, mortality data related to drug use is a neglected topic in local health in Palestine.
A retrospective study was conducted in the north of the West Bank to investigate the occurrence of death-related drug use in the West Bank in 2011-2021 in 673 post-mortem cases.
Natural death was the leading cause of death (40%), followed by homicide (30%), accident (17%), and suicide (12%). Palestinian refugees were three times more likely to commit homicide than urban. Most suicide cases were males, and asphyxiation by hanging was the predominant cause. Children were five times, and young adults were nine times more likely to commit suicide than victims aged >40 years. In all mortality data related to intoxication, organophosphates were the leading cause of death in suicidal cases and multidrug misuse in unintentional death. Amphetamines were the most drugs found in combination with other drugs. Most of the deaths-related drug use were male prominent and from villages.
The increased rate of suicide and accidental death related to drug use, the age of victims, and the polydrug tested in these cases indicate that there is a hidden population of multidrug users in young adults and children. The type of combined drugs estimated the potential of the danger caused by these drugs. Moreover, age-related increases in homicide and suicide rates highlight the vital role of raising national health awareness and improving the health care system in rural areas and refugee camps.
Keywords: Forensic toxicity; Post-mortem examination; Drug intoxication; Drug misuse; Suicide; Homicide; Accidental death; Palestinian refugees; Autopsy, Organophosphate