Monitoring deliberate self-harm presentations to general hospitals.
Hawton K., Bale L., Casey D., Shepherd A., Simkin S., Harriss L.
Monitoring of deliberate self-harm (DSH) presentations to hospitals (and in other settings) is receiving increased attention in many countries. This is due to greater recognition of the size of the problem and awareness of its relevance to suicide prevention policy initiatives, because of the strong association between DSH and suicide. A system for monitoring all DSH presentations has been in place in the general hospital in Oxford for 30 years. Based on our experience, in this paper we describe procedures for monitoring, including case definition and identification, linkage of persons and episodes in order to investigate repetition of DSH and other outcomes (including deaths), and data protection and ethical issues. We also provide details of how to carry out monitoring, including different models of data collection, and what data to collect. Finally we consider the potential uses of the data for both clinical and research purposes, including evaluation of national suicide prevention initiatives.