Risk factors for deliberate self-harm in young people in rural Sri Lanka: a prospective cohort study of 22,000 individuals.
Fernando K., Jayamanna S., Weerasinghe M., Priyadarshana C., Ratnayake R., Pearson M., Gunnell D., Dawson A., Hawton K., Konradsen F., Eddleston M., Metcalfe C., Knipe D.
Background: Over 90% of youth suicide deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Despite this relatively little is known about risk factors in this context. Aims: Investigate risk factors for deliberate self-harm (non-fatal) in young people in rural Sri Lanka. Methods: A prospective cohort study of 22,401 individuals aged 12-18 years with complete data on sex, student status, household asset score, household access to pesticides and household problematic alcohol use. Deliberate self-harm was measured prospectively by reviewing hospital records. Poisson regression estimated incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for the association of risk factors with deliberate self-harm. Results: Females were at higher risk of deliberate self-harm compared to males (IRR 2.05; 95%CI 1.75 - 2.40). Lower asset scores (low compared to high: IRR 1.46, 95%CI 1.12 - 2.00) and having left education (IRR 1.61 95%CI 1.31 - 1.98) were associated with higher risks of deliberate self-harm, with evidence that the effect of not being in school was more pronounced in males (IRR 1.94; 95%CI 1.40 - 2.70) than females. There was no evidence of an association between household pesticide access and deliberate self-harm risk, but problematic household alcohol use was associated with increased risk (IRR 1.23; 95%CI 1.04 - 1.45), with evidence that this was more pronounced in females than males (IRR for females 1.42; 95%CI 1.17 - 1.72). There was no evidence of deliberate self-harm risk being higher at times of school exam stress. Conclusion: Indicators of lower socioeconomic status, not being in school, and problematic alcohol use in households, were associated with increased deliberate self-harm risk in young people.