Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Children and adolescents who present to hospital following self-harm have an increased future risk of suicide compared with other children and adolescents, which may persist for several years, according to an observational study of more than 9,000 children and adolescents aged 10-18 years who presented to five English hospitals for non-fatal self-harm.

Image of a young person talking to a therapist.

Self-harm is the most important risk factor for subsequent suicide in young people. In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged 15–24 years, and general population rates of suicide have increased among people aged 10–19 years since 2010.

This new study, Mortality in children and adolescents following presentation to hospital after non-fatal self-harm in the Multicentre Study of Self-harm: a prospective observational cohort study, is published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. Spanning 16 years the study looked at the future risk and cause of death in 9,173 children and adolescents who presented for self-harm, of which 55 (0.6 percent) died by suicide.

While suicide was uncommon, the findings suggest that the annual rate of suicide in the patients who self-harmed was more than 30 times that expected in other young people in the general population. The increased risk remained at a similar level over more than 10 years of follow up.

 

Our findings emphasise a need to identify strategies to try to prevent self-harm in children and adolescents in order to reduce future risk of suicide. They also underline the importance of provision of good care for children and adolescents who present to hospital following self-harm.Professor Keith Hawton, Director of the Centre for Suicide Research, University of Oxford

 

The study included patients from five hospitals (one in Oxford, three in Manchester and one in Derby). The authors note that since most young people who self-harm do not attend a hospital, these findings only relate to those adolescents who do, there tends to be large differences in the patterns of self-harm between the two groups.

Mortality in children and adolescents following presentation to hospital after non-fatal self-harm in the Multicentre Study of Self-harm: a prospective observational cohort study

NIHR OXFORD HEALTH BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH CENTRE NEWS

Please follow the link below to read the news on the NIHR BRC website.

Similar stories

Viewing self-harm images on the internet and in social media usually causes harm, according to new review

Clinical researchers have reviewed the international research evidence regarding the impact of viewing images of self-harm on the internet and in social media.

Friendship and mental health in adolescents

Tanya Manchanda's new paper investigates the role of friendship on the mental health outcomes of adolescents

NICE recommends digital mental health technologies from Oxford

Two digital tools were recommended for use in the NHS to help children and young people with symptoms of anxiety or low mood.

Major wellbeing survey for 9-18 year olds launched

Researchers at Oxford are encouraging schools and colleges in four areas of the country to sign up to be part of the OxWell Student Survey.

In Memoriam: Gregory Stores

Gregory Stores, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychiatry at Oxford University, contributed greatly to the understanding of epilepsy and sleep disorders.

Oxford researchers respond to campaign for bereavement lessons in schools

A petition has been organised to get the matter debated in Parliament