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Suicide following deliberate self-harm: long-term follow-up of patients who presented to a general hospital

  • Keith Hawton (a1), Daniel Zahl (a1) and Rosamund Weatherall (a2)
Abstract
Background

Deliberate self-harm (DSH) is the strongest risk factor for future suicide. Up-to-date information on the extent of risk is lacking.

Aims

To investigate the risk of suicide after DSH during a long follow-up period.

Method

A mortality follow-up study to 2000 was conducted on 11583 patients who presented to hospital after DSH between 1978 and 1997. Data were obtained from a general hospital DSH register in Oxford and the Office for National Statistics, and from equivalent mortality registers in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Results

Three hundred patients had died by suicide or probable suicide. The risk in the first year of follow-up was 0.7% (95% CI 0.6–0.9%), which was 66 (95% CI 52–82) times the annual risk of suicide in the general population. The risk after 5 years was 1.7%, at 10 years 2.4% and at 15 years 3.0%. The risk was far higher in men than in women (hazard ratio 2.8, 95% CI 2.2–3.6). In both genders it increased markedly with age at initial presentation.

Conclusions

Following DSH there is a significant and persistent risk of suicide, which varies markedly between genders and age groups. Reduction in the risk of suicide following DSH must be a key element in national suicide prevention strategies.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Professor Keith Hawton, Centre for Suicide Research, University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK. E-mail: keith.hawton@psych.ox.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None. Funding is detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Suicide following deliberate self-harm: long-term follow-up of patients who presented to a general hospital

  • Keith Hawton (a1), Daniel Zahl (a1) and Rosamund Weatherall (a2)
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