Self-harming in Northern Ireland on rise with 25,000 cases in three years
The number of people self-harming in Northern Ireland is on the rise, with more than 25,000 cases dealt with in hospital in the last three years.
According to figures from the Public Health Agency, 16,301 individuals were treated in emergency departments from 2012 to 2015.
A number of those attended on multiple occasions, as the overall number of presentations in the same period was 25,620.
The statistics indicate that self-harm rates were on the rise over the three years.
From the first year analysed to the last, the number of self-harm presentations recorded increased by 7% (from 8,279 to 8,885), while the number of individuals affected increased by 11% (from 5,977 to 6,630).
Between 2012/13 and 2014/15, the overall rate of self-harm in Northern Ireland per 100,000 of the population increased by 12%, from 334 to 373 per 100,000. The male rate increased by 13% (from 335 to 377 per 100,000) and the female rate increased by 11% (from 334 to 371 per 100,000). Between 2012/13 and 2014/15 there was a 20% increase in the rate of self-harm among 10 to 34-year-olds, from 528 to 633 per 100,000. The rate among 15 to 19-year-olds increased by 30% and 29% among males and females respectively.
The analysis of presentations to Northern Ireland's 12 emergency departments was undertaken by the PHA to improve understanding about self-harm and related behaviour and to help shape the development of services and support to better meet the needs of those represented by the figures.
Across the three-year period, an average of 23 presentations involving self-harm were recorded each day.
Co-author of the report Brendan Bonner, head of health and social wellbeing improvement (western area) with the PHA, said: "This report provides us with a better understanding of self-harm attendances to emergency departments. Self-harm has a serious impact on the person involved and those around them, so we want to increase our understanding of the issue and key trends around this type of behaviour so we can design our services to best meet the needs of those who need them.
"Data has now been collected for three full calendar years, which provide sufficient statistics over a significant period of time to identify the nature of the problem, chart key trends of self-harming behaviour, and inform our future approach to tackling this issue in our communities in a targeted and effective way."
The PHA urged anyone who has done something which might result in serious harm to go to hospital or, in urgent cases, call 999.
The agency statement added: "If you or someone you know has not self-harmed, but are in distress and at risk of self-harm or suicide, seek help from either a GP or ring the confidential Lifeline service on 0808 808 8000. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info"