A SIX-YEAR-OLD was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital after overdosing on antidepressants.
The shocking revelation comes as new figures show three people a day are admitted to the city’s hospital after taking a drug overdose.
A total of 2,999 people were taken to A&E after overdosing on prescribed or non-prescribed medicine and drugs from December 2008 to December 2011.
The youngest was a six-year-old. A further five 12-year-olds were admitted after overdosing on painkillers, penicillin and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Figures show that 231 under-18s overdosed on a concoction of drugs, according to the figures obtained by the Echo under the Freedom of Information Act.
There were 972 people admitted in 2008/09, 1,065 in 2009/10 and 962 in 2010/11.
Hospital bosses said there is no way of determining whether any of these were accidental or intentional overdoses but of those 422 were as a result of taking illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin and other narcotics.
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland said: “The greater availability of drugs is a great concern and the ages at which they are being taken is a real worry for the whole community.
“It also places a great strain on the agencies that have to pick up the pieces, and the families concerned.
“Individuals should take great care at this time of year when they are out enjoying themselves and friends, especially, should look after each other.”
One 21-year-old Sunderland woman today told the Echo how she used painkillers to try and end her life when she was just 15.
Her parents were going through a divorce, she had just split up with her boyfriend, she was being bullied in school and exam pressure was piling up.
She said: “It felt like my world was falling apart and I couldn’t see a way out so one night I had a load to drink and decided to take some paracetamol.”
Thankfully, the teen’s mum returned home in time to find her throwing up in the bathroom, surrounded by empty bottles.
She added: “I don’t think I intentionally meant to kill myself, I think it was more a cry for help.”
Washington Mind, which offers help and support to people battling mental health issues, fears many of the overdoses may have been through people wanting to deliberately end their lives.
The service regularly has to cope with calls from suicidal people, and it tends to receive more calls for help from young people than other agencies.
Jacqui Reeves, services manager, said: “Sadly, organisations like ours that work with people who contact us at what can only be the worst time of their lives, are not surprised to hear of the news that almost 3,000 people were admitted after having taken overdoses.”
A spokeswoman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, which works on behalf of Sunderland Primary Care Trust, gave advice to help prevent accidental overdoses.
She said: “Do not take medicine which has been prescribed or recommended for somebody else, even if you feel that you have a similar problem, and return any unwanted medicines to your local pharmacy.”