Home > National Self-Harm Registry annual report, 2016.

Millar, Sean (2018) National Self-Harm Registry annual report, 2016. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 64, Winter 2018, p. 12.

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The 15th annual report from National Self-Harm Registry Ireland was published in late 2017.1 The report contains information relating to every recorded presentation of deliberate self-harm to acute hospital emergency departments in Ireland in 2016 and complete national coverage of cases treated. All individuals who were alive on admission to hospital following deliberate self-harm were included, along with the methods of deliberate self-harm that were used. Accidental overdoses of medication, street drugs or alcohol were not included.


Rates of self-harm

There were 11,485 recorded presentations of deliberate self-harm in 2016, involving 8,909 individuals. Taking the population into account, the age standardised rate of individuals presenting to hospital in the Republic of Ireland following self-harm was 206 per 100,000 population. This is similar to the rate recorded in 2015 (204 per 100,000 population). In recent years, there have been successive decreases in the self-harm rate between 2011 and 2013. Nevertheless, the rate in 2016 was still 10% higher than in 2007, the year before the economic recession (Figure 1).


In 2016, the national male rate of self-harm was 184 per 100,000 population, 1% lower than in 2015. The female rate was 229 per 100,000 population, which was 3% higher than in 2015. Since 2007, the male and female rates of self-harm have increased by 14% and 7%, respectively. With regard to age, the peak rate for men was in the 20—24-age group at 516 per 100,000 population. The peak rate for women was among 15—19-year-olds at 763 per 100,000 population.



Self-harm and drug and alcohol use

Intentional drug overdose was the most common form of deliberate self-harm reported in 2016, occurring in 7,646 (67%) of episodes. As observed in 2015, overdose rates were higher among women (72%) than among men (59%). Minor tranquillisers and antidepressants/mood stabilisers were involved in 35% and 19% of drug overdose acts, respectively. In total, 32% of male and 47% of female overdose cases involved analgesic drugs, most commonly paracetamol, which was involved in 30% of all drug overdose acts. In 69% of cases, the total number of tablets taken was known, with an average of 29 tablets taken in episodes of self-harm that involved a drug overdose.


There was no increase in the number of presentations involving street drugs (cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine) compared to 2015 (n=547). Nevertheless, the 2015/16 levels are the highest recorded since 2008 and the second highest ever recorded by the registry. Alcohol was involved in 31% of all self-harm presentations, and was significantly more often involved in male episodes of self-harm than females (34% vs 29%, respectively). The authors reported that, as in previous years, alcohol continued to be one of the factors associated with the higher rate of self-harm presentations on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays, and in the hours around midnight.


The authors concluded that these findings underline the need for ongoing efforts: 

  • To reduce access to minor tranquillisers and other frequently used drugs, including paracetamol
  • To intensify national strategies to increase awareness of mental health issues
  • To intensify further strategies to reduce access to alcohol.


1  Griffin E, Arensman E, Corcoran P, Williamson E and Perry IJ (2017) National Self-Harm Registry Ireland annual report 2016. Cork: National Suicide Research Foundation. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/27916/

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Issue Title
Issue 64, Winter 2018
February 2018
Page Range
p. 12
Health Research Board
Issue 64, Winter 2018
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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