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BACKGROUND: Marked differences have been found in the characteristics of people dying by suicide in Western and Asian countries. However, there is less information available on possible differences for deliberate self-harm (DSH). AIMS: To compare the characteristics of people presenting to hospital in Hong Kong and Oxford (UK) with DSH, and to assess the outcome of those persons in Hong Kong. METHODS: A sample of DSH patients admitted to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of a regional hospital in Hong Kong was assessed and followed up 6 months later to assess the risk of repetition of DSH, and was then compared with such patients in Oxford. RESULTS: The majority of patients in Hong Kong were female (male:female ratio of 1:2.4), young (59% were under 35), and had used self-poisoning (78%). Over one-third were single (37%) and one-fourth unemployed (26%). About half (49%) scored in the high or very high categories of the Beck's Suicide Intent Scale, considerably more so than in Oxford; 44.6% of patients defaulted psychiatric outpatient service during the 6-month follow-up period. The repetition rate within the following 6 months was 16.7%. The number of self-reported adverse life problems, history of childhood sexual and physical abuse, and repetitive self-mutilation were shown to be the factors most strongly correlated with the risk of re-attempt. Alcohol problems were much lower than in Oxford. CONCLUSIONS: The findings show that DSH patients in Hong Kong show some marked differences compared to those in Oxford. Implications for the prevention of repeated DSH in Hong Kong are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





217 - 224


Adult, Age Distribution, Aged, Cross-Cultural Comparison, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Hong Kong, Humans, Life Change Events, Male, Mental Disorders, Middle Aged, Recurrence, Risk, Sex Distribution, Suicide, Attempted, United Kingdom