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.

BACKGROUND: Relatively little information is available about the characteristics and long-term outcome of children and adolescents aged under 15 years who present to general hospitals because of deliberate self-harm (DSH). METHOD: Information was collected on 710 consecutive under-15-year-olds presenting to a general hospital in central England with DSH over a 26-year period (1978-2003). Outcome in terms of death was investigated from national statistics in 464 cases presenting during the first 20 years of the study. RESULTS: Most individuals were aged 12-14 years. In this age group the female:male ratio was 6.5:1. Nearly all (680/710, 95.8%) had taken overdoses, over half of these episodes involving paracetamol (acetaminophen). Few had a history of prior (7.7%) or current psychiatric treatment (7.7%), although a quarter (150/559, 26.8%) had a history of previous DSH. Suicidal intent was usually low. The most frequent problems were difficulties in relationships with family members (77.3%) and with friends (38.9%), and school/study problems (37.9%). The long-term risk of suicide was low, 1.1% (N = 5) having died by probable suicide after a mean follow-up period of 11 years 2 months. CONCLUSIONS: DSH in children and young adolescents is usually related to life problems, is generally of low suicidal intent, and is associated with a relatively low long-term risk of suicide.

Original publication




Journal article


J Child Psychol Psychiatry

Publication Date





441 - 448


Adolescent, Adult, Alcoholism, Cause of Death, Comorbidity, Crime Victims, Cross-Sectional Studies, Drug Overdose, England, Family Conflict, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Hospitals, General, Humans, Male, Personality Assessment, Personality Inventory, Psychiatric Department, Hospital, Recurrence, Risk, Risk Factors, Self-Injurious Behavior, Socioeconomic Factors, Substance-Related Disorders, Suicide, Suicide, Attempted, Violence