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‘He left me a message on Facebook’: comparing the risk profiles of self-harming patients who leave paper suicide notes with those who leave messages on new media

  • Jessica R. Barrett (a1), William Lee (a1), Hitesh Shetty (a2), Matthew Broadbent (a2), Sean Cross (a3), Matthew Hotopf (a4) and Robert Stewart (a5)...
Abstract
Background

In cases of non-fatal self-harm, suicide notes are a major risk factor for repeated self-harm and suicide. Suicide notes can now be left on new media services, emails or text messages, as well as on paper.

Aims

In a group of people who had harmed themselves, we aimed to compare new media note-leavers with paper note-leavers and characterise these groups demographically and by risk factors.

Method

Clinical notes of patients who presented with non-fatal self-harm to two London emergency departments were anonymously searched for mentions of new media use. These were categorised and risk factors were compared for those who had left a new media note, a paper note, or no note to establish differences in risk of note-leaving.

Results

New media note-leaving was associated with younger age and substance use; both risk factors for repeated self-harm. However, suicidal intent remained highest in paper note-leavers.

Conclusions

Paper note-leavers remain at greatest risk, however new media note leaving is still correlated with risk factors related to repeated self-harm and suicide. Clinicians should enquire about new media use during emergency department assessments of self-harm.

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Copyright
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Non-Commercial, No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Corresponding author
Jessica R. Barrett, Peninsula Schools of Medicine & Dentistry (PUPSMD), Plymouth University, Plymouth Science Park, ITTC Building 1, Room N9, Derriford, Plymouth, Devon PL6 8BX, UK. Email: Jessica.Barrett@plymouth.ac.uk
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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‘He left me a message on Facebook’: comparing the risk profiles of self-harming patients who leave paper suicide notes with those who leave messages on new media

  • Jessica R. Barrett (a1), William Lee (a1), Hitesh Shetty (a2), Matthew Broadbent (a2), Sean Cross (a3), Matthew Hotopf (a4) and Robert Stewart (a5)...
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