The paper, published in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, provides the first detailed study of self-harm and associated hospital costs. The authors found that the number of people visiting hospital for self-harm injuries is 60% higher than previously estimated by Public Health England.
Senior author, Professor Keith Hawton, Director of the Centre for Suicide Research said ‘Suicide affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and is the leading cause of death in males aged 10-49 years and females age 10-34 years in England and Wales. Approximately half of individuals who die by suicide have a history of self-harm, and hospital presentation for self-harm often occurs shortly before suicide. This highlights the need for primary and secondary prevention interventions that focus on reducing self-harm presentations and on provision of effective aftercare for those who do self-harm.’
The study authors estimated that 228,075 hospital visits in England by 159,857 patients (39% male and 61% female) in 2013 were a result of self-harm. Their definition included intentional self-poisoning and self-injury. They found that 30% of self-harm related hospital visits by men were by those aged between 40 and 49 and that 28% of hospital visits related to self-harm in women were by those aged 19 to 29. The incidence of self-harm was lower in coastal areas, higher inland, and highest in London.