Individuals who self-harm have a high risk of repetition

January 01, 0001

Individuals who self-harm have a high risk of repetition

Repeated self-harm is relatively common and is linked with an elevated risk of eventual suicide. There has been no study of this involving a large sample from the Far East. The aim of this study by researchers from Chinese Taipei and the UK was to estimate the risk over the medium term of non-fatal repetition of self-harm and identify predictive factors in those carrying out self-harm. A total of 970 individuals who had self-harmed were recruited from a community-based suicide behaviour register system in Nantou, Chinese Taipei from July 2000 to February 2003. Information regarding demography and suicide methods was collected. Individuals were followed-up until December 2005 to examine the risk of repeated self- harm and independent predictive factors.

Ninety cohort members had repeated self-harm during the follow-up period (accounting for 131 repeated self-harm episodes in all). The cumulative risks were 5.7% for the first year, 7.8% for the second year and 9.5% for the fourth year. The risk was highest within the first year after the self-harm event. Independent risk factors included female gender and self-cutting as well as self-poisoning with drugs. Effect of younger age was mediated through the choice of methods.

The researchers concluded: "Individuals with self-harm have a high risk of repetition, especially within the first year. Suicide prevention strategies need to focus on intervening with this population to reduce their repetition."

Once identified, intervention at the primary care level may be possible.

For the full abstract, click here.

The British Journal of Psychiatry Vol 196 Issue 1 Pp 31-35, January 2010 (doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.109.067009)
© 2010 The Royal College of Psychiatrists
Non-fatal repetition of self-harm: population-based prospective cohort study in Chinese Taipei. Vincent C. H. Chen, Happy K. L. Tan, Andrew T. A. Chen et al. Correspondence to: Andrew T. A. Cheng: [email protected]

Category: P. Psychological Keywords: self harm, repitition, Chinese Taipei, population based prospective cohort study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 4 February 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.