(Received 22 January 1998; accepted 4 May 1998)
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Methamphetamine (MAP) is currently considered to be the major illicit drug in Taiwan, and MAP constitutes the majority of illicit drugs seized by the judicial institutes. Thus, MAP has raised public attention. The purpose of this retrospective study is to observe the trends of MAP-related fatalities in Taiwan with respect to the manners of death so as to determine the epidemiological implications of MAP. Two hundred and forty-four MAP-related fatalities out of a total of 3958 forensic fatalities were collected by the Forensic Medicine Center (Taiwan) during the period of 1991 to 1996. The annual percentages of MAP-related fatalities compared to the total autopsy cases during 1991 through 1996 were 3.4, 10.3, 12.1, 4.2, 4.0 and 5.6%, showing that the number of MAP-related fatalities increased from 1991 to 1993, declined during 1994 and 1995, and rose again in 1996. The mean age of the MAP-related fatalities during this period was 30.7 years and occurred predominantly in males (73%). The manner of deaths included natural, accidental, suicidal, homicidal and uncertain causes of deaths, represented, respectively, by 31 (13%), 143 (59%), 28 (11%), 34 (14%) and 8 (3%) cases. As a consequence of the endemic problem and public hazard created by illicit drug abuse in Taiwan, stronger anti-drug programs and curbs to illicit-drug addiction were required urgently from the government and from the public. The findings of this study represent the results of utilization of an anti-drug program in Taiwan (Support by NSC 85-2331-B-016-092).
Dept. Biology & Anatomy, Dept. Pathology, Dept. Medical Engineering, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei,
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