Home > Risk of repeated self-harm and associated factors in children, adolescents and young adults.

Bennardi, Marco and McMahon, Elaine and Corcoran, Paul and Griffin, Eve and Arensman, Ella (2016) Risk of repeated self-harm and associated factors in children, adolescents and young adults. BMC Psychiatry, 16, (1), p. 421.

External website: https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/1...

BACKGROUND: Repeated self-harm represents the single strongest risk factor for suicide. To date no study with full national coverage has examined the pattern of hospital repeated presentations due to self-harm among young people.

METHODS: Data on consecutive self-harm presentations were obtained from the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland. Socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics of individuals aged 10-29 years who presented with self-harm to emergency departments in Ireland (2007-2014) were analysed. Risk of long-term repetition was assessed using survival analysis and time differences between the order of presentations using generalised estimating equation analysis.

RESULTS: The total sample comprised 28,700 individuals involving 42,642 presentations. Intentional drug overdose was the most prevalent method (57.9%). Repetition of self-harm occurred in 19.2% of individuals during the first year following a first presentation, of whom the majority (62.7%) engaged in one repeated act. Overall, the risk of repeated self-harm was similar between males and females. However, in the 20-24-year-old age group males were at higher risk than females. Those who used self-cutting were at higher risk for repetition than those who used intentional drug overdose, particularly among females. Age was associated with repetition only among females, in particular adolescents (15-19 years old) were at higher risk than young emerging adults (20-24 years old). Repeated self-harm risk increased significantly with the number of previous self-harm episodes. Time differences between first self-harm presentations were detected. Time between second and third presentation increased compared to time between first and second presentation among low frequency repeaters (patients with 3 presentations only within 1 year following a first presentation). The same time period decreased among high frequency repeaters (patients with at least 4 to more than 30 presentations).

CONCLUSION: Young people with the highest risk for repeated self-harm were 15-19-year-old females and 20-24-year-old males. Self-cutting was the method associated with the highest risk of self-harm repetition. Time between first self-harm presentations represents an indicator of subsequent repetition. To prevent risk of repeated self-harm in young people, all individuals presenting at emergency departments due to self-harm should be provided with a risk assessment including psychosocial characteristics, history of self-harm and time between first presentations.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
24 November 2016
Page Range
p. 421
BioMed Central
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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