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Trends in deliberate self-harm in Oxford, 1985–1995: Implications for clinical services and the prevention of suicide

  • Keith Hawton (a1), Joan Fagg (a1), Sue Simkin (a1), Elizabeth Bale (a1) and Alison Bond (a1)...



Deliberate self-harm (DSH) has been a major health problem in the UK for nearly three decades. Any changes in rates of DSH or the demographic characteristics of the patient population are likely to have important implications for clinical services and suicide prevention.


Data collected by the Oxford Monitoring System for Attempted Suicide were used to review trends in DSH between 1985–1995


There was a substantial increase in DSH rates during the 11-year study period, with a 62.1% increase in males and a 42.2% increase in females. The largest rise was in 15–24-year-old males (+194.1%). Changes in DSH rates correlated with changes in national suicide rates in both males and females in this age group. Rates of repetition of DSH increased in both genders during the study period. Paracetamol self-poisoning has continued to increase, half of all overdoses in 1995 involving paracetamol, and antidepressant overdoses have become more common.


The increase in DSH, especially in young males, has important implications for general hospital DSH and medical services. It may herald a reversal of recent progress towards achievement of national suicide targets.


Corresponding author

Professor Keith Hawton, University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX


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Trends in deliberate self-harm in Oxford, 1985–1995: Implications for clinical services and the prevention of suicide

  • Keith Hawton (a1), Joan Fagg (a1), Sue Simkin (a1), Elizabeth Bale (a1) and Alison Bond (a1)...


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Trends in deliberate self-harm in Oxford, 1985–1995: Implications for clinical services and the prevention of suicide

  • Keith Hawton (a1), Joan Fagg (a1), Sue Simkin (a1), Elizabeth Bale (a1) and Alison Bond (a1)...
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