This study is a descriptive survey of financial difficulties in a consecutive series of patients who deliberately poisoned themselves. Over three months 160 such patients presented to the liaison psychiatry service at Leeds General Infirmary. Information was available on 147 of these patients, of whom 54 (37%) had problem debts. Patients in debt were more likely to harm themselves with greater suicidal intent and, after the episode, to report more symptoms of depression and hopelessness. Psychiatrists were more likely to diagnose mental illness in those in debt.