This study presents the pattern of assessment and 6-month out-patient attendance of 54 children and adolescents who took an overdose over a 12-month period, and were assessed by a district child and adolescent psychiatry service. Attempts were precipitated by arguments (67%) or school-related stressors (19%). In 70.4% of cases, analgesic tablets were used. A psychiatric disorder was present in 51% of the cases. At 6 months, 13% of the patients were still attending for follow-up, while three children (5.5%) had taken a second overdose. Admission to a paediatric ward can facilitate the initiation of treatment. Child mental health services should aim at providing prompt assessment, good communication with other agencies, and follow-up arrangements, particularly with high-risk young people and their families
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