Increasing rates of self-harm among children, adolescents and young adults: a 10-year national registry study 2007–2016

  • Eve GriffinEmail author
  • Elaine McMahon
  • Fiona McNicholas
  • Paul Corcoran
  • Ivan J. Perry
  • Ella Arensman
Original Paper



Rates of hospital-treated self-harm are highest among young people. The current study examined trends in rates of self-harm among young people in Ireland over a 10-year period, as well as trends in self-harm methods.


Data from the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland on presentations to hospital emergency departments (EDs) following self-harm by those aged 10–24 years during the period 2007–2016 were included. We calculated annual self-harm rates per 100,000 by age, gender and method of self-harm. Poisson regression models were used to examine trends in rates of self-harm.


The average person-based rate of self-harm among 10–24-year-olds was 318 per 100,000. Peak rates were observed among 15–19-year-old females (564 per 100,000) and 20–24-year-old males (448 per 100,000). Between 2007 and 2016, rates of self-harm increased by 22%, with increases most pronounced for females and those aged 10–14 years. There were marked increases in specific methods of self-harm, including those associated with high lethality.


The findings indicate that the age of onset of self-harm is decreasing. Increasing rates of self-harm, along with increases in highly lethal methods, indicate that targeted interventions in key transition stages for young people are warranted.


Self-harm Young people Epidemiology 



The National Self-Harm Registry Ireland is funded by the Irish Health Service Executive’s National Office for Suicide Prevention.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None declared.

Ethics statement

The National Research Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Ireland granted ethical approval for the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland.

Supplementary material

127_2018_1522_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eve Griffin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elaine McMahon
    • 1
  • Fiona McNicholas
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Paul Corcoran
    • 1
    • 5
  • Ivan J. Perry
    • 5
  • Ella Arensman
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.National Suicide Research Foundation, 4.28 Western Gateway BuildingUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryOur Lady’s Children’s HospitalDublinIreland
  3. 3.School of MedicineUniversity College DublinDublinIreland
  4. 4.Lucena Clinic, RathgarDublin 6Ireland
  5. 5.School of Public HealthUniversity College CorkCorkIreland

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