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Non-fatal repetition of self-harm: population-based prospective cohort study in Taiwan

  • Vincent C. H. Chen (a1), Happy K. L. Tan (a2), Andrew T. A. Cheng (a3), Chung-Ying Chen (a4), Long-Ren Liao (a5), Robert Stewart (a6), Michael Dewey (a6) and Martin Prince (a6)...
Abstract
Background

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.

Aims

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.

Method

A total of 970 individuals who had self-harmed were recruited from a community-based suicide behaviour register system in Nantou, Taiwan 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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Professor Andrew Cheng, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, 11529. Email: bmandrew@gate.sinica.edu.tw
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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Non-fatal repetition of self-harm: population-based prospective cohort study in Taiwan

  • Vincent C. H. Chen (a1), Happy K. L. Tan (a2), Andrew T. A. Cheng (a3), Chung-Ying Chen (a4), Long-Ren Liao (a5), Robert Stewart (a6), Michael Dewey (a6) and Martin Prince (a6)...
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