A study of deliberate self-harm and its repetition among patients presenting to an emergency department.
Yip PS., Hawton K., Liu K., Liu KS., Ng PW., Kam PM., Law YW., Wong TW.
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.