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European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 369–377 | Cite as

Epidemiology and nature of self-harm in children and adolescents: findings from the multicentre study of self-harm in England

  • Keith Hawton
  • Helen Bergen
  • Keith Waters
  • Jennifer Ness
  • Jayne Cooper
  • Sarah Steeg
  • Navneet Kapur
Original Contribution

Abstract

We examined epidemiology and characteristics of self-harm in adolescents and impact of national guidance on management. Data were collected in six hospitals in three centres between 2000 and 2007 in the Multicentre Study of Self-harm in England. Of 5,205 individuals (7,150 episodes of self-harm), three-quarters were female. The female:male ratio in 10–14 year-olds was 5.0 and 2.7 in 15–18 year-olds. Rates of self-harm varied somewhat between the centres. In females they averaged 302 per 100,000 (95 % CI 269–335) in 10–14 year-olds and 1,423 (95 % CI 1,346–1,501) in 15–18 year-olds, and were 67 (95 % CI 52–82) and 466 (95 % CI 422–510), respectively, in males. Self-poisoning was the most common method, involving paracetamol in 58.2 % of episodes. Presentations, especially those involving alcohol, peaked at night. Repetition of self-harm was frequent (53.3 % had a history of prior self-harm and 17.7 % repeated within a year). Relationship problems were the predominant difficulties associated with self-harm. Specialist assessment occurred in 57 % of episodes. Self-harm in children and adolescents in England is common, especially in older adolescents, and paracetamol overdose is the predominant method. National guidance on provision of psychosocial assessment in all cases of self-harm requires further implementation.

Keywords

Children Adolescents Self-harm Epidemiology Alcohol Paracetamol 

Notes

Acknowledgments

For assistance with data collection we thank Deborah Casey, Elizabeth Bale and Anna Shepherd in Oxford, Elizabeth Murphy, Iain Donaldson, Maria Healey and Stella Dickson in Manchester, and Carol Stalker in Derby, and members of the general hospital psychiatric and other clinical services, and hospital administration staff in all three centres. KH is a National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator. NK is also supported by the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust. We acknowledge financial support from the Department of Health under the NHS R&D Programme (DH/DSH2008). The Department of Health had no role in study design, the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, the writing of the report, and the decision to submit the paper for publication. The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Health.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith Hawton
    • 1
  • Helen Bergen
    • 1
  • Keith Waters
    • 2
  • Jennifer Ness
    • 2
  • Jayne Cooper
    • 3
  • Sarah Steeg
    • 3
  • Navneet Kapur
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Centre for Suicide Research, Warneford HospitalUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation TrustDerbyEngland
  3. 3.Centre for Suicide PreventionUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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