Gray, E. BMJ Open Blog. Published online 28 April 2016.
The number of hospital cases of self-inflicted harm, such as cutting and overdosing on prescription meds, has risen steadily since 2008 in England among men, reveals research published in the online journal BMJ Open.
But only around half of those who go to hospital after the incident receive a specialist mental health assessment, as national guidelines stipulate they should, the data show.
This is of particular concern as episodes of self-harm precede death in one in every two cases of suicide, the researchers point out.
The researchers base their findings on reported cases of self-harm among people aged 15 and older at five general hospitals in the cities of Oxford, Manchester, and Derby between 2000 and 2012. Self-harm includes intentional injury and overdosing on prescription drugs.
The three cities are all part of the Multicentre Study of Self Harm in England. Because they are socially and economically diverse, the study participants are reasonably representative of urban patterns of self-harm across the country, say the researchers.
During the 13-year study period, 84,378 episodes of self-harm involving 47,048 people were dealt with at the five hospitals. Well over half of these cases (58+%) were among women.
Almost four out of 10 people were under 25, and nearly two thirds (62%) were under 35. Almost a third (30%) were receiving some form of psychiatric care when they self-harmed.
Overall, rates of self-harm fell among women from 2000 onwards. They also fell in men, but only until 2008, after which they steadily rose, possibly because of the effects of the economic downturn, suggest the researchers.
The rates of self-harm closely mirrored patterns of suicide seen in the general population, for both men and women.
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