attempted suicide

Last reviewed 01/2018

In England and Wales there are at least 200,000 general hospital presentations for self-harm (intentional self-poisoning or self-injury) per year

  • self-harm occurs in relation to a wide range of personal problems, emotional turmoil and psychiatric disorders. It carries a significant risk of subsequent suicide and has major impacts on family members and friends

Deliberate self-harm is defined as any act undertaken by a person mimicking the act of suicide, but not resulting in a fatal outcome.

Parasuicide is a very different phenomenon from suicide, not least in that there is a patient with which the health professional may work after the attempt.

  • data from the Multicentre Study on Self Harm in England (1)
    • 57% of patients were female
    • 66% under 35 years of age
    • llargest numbers by age groups were 15-19 year-old females and 20-24 year-old males
    • female to male ratio decreased with age
    • approximately 80% of self-harm episodes involved self-poisoning
      • overdoses of paracetamol, the most frequent method, were more common in younger age groups, antidepressants in middle age groups, and benzodiazepines and sedatives in older age groups
      • alcohol was involved in more than half of assessed episodes
      • most common time of presentation to hospital was between 10pm and 2am

  • a survey of young people aged 15-16 years estimated that more than 10% of girls and more than 3% of boys had self-harmed in the previous year (2)
    • self-harm increases the likelihood that the person will eventually die by suicide
      • by between 50- and 100-fold above the rest of the population in a 12-month period