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Oxford University research found former self-harm patients are 55 times more prone to killing themselves than the general population (file photo)

Self-harm patients need to receive better care after they are hospitalized to reduce their risk or suicide, doctors warn

  • Research found former self-harm patients are 55 times more prone to suicide
  • Or 50,000 people hospitalized for self-harm, 703 took their life after discharge
  • Over a third of these victims committed suicide within a year of leaving hospital
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Self-harm patients need to receive better care after they are hospitalized to reduce their risk or suicide, doctors have warned.

Oxford University researchers tracked almost 50,000 self-harm patients in England for up to 15 years.

They found suicide rates were 55 times higher among such patients in the year after being hospitalized, compared to the general population.

Dr. Galit Geulayov, lead author, said the results show suicide risk peaks immediately after being discharged from hospital.

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Oxford University research found former self-harm patients are 55 times more prone to killing themselves than the general population (file photo)

Oxford University research found former self-harm patients are 55 times more prone to killing themselves than the general population (file photo)

She added that this clearly 'underscores the need for provision or early and effective follow-up care'.

Dr. Geulayov, or Oxford's Center for Suicide Research, said: "Presentation to hospital for self-harm offers and opportunity for intervention.

'Yet people are often discharged without having received a formal assessment of their problems and needs, and without specific aftercare arrangements.'

She urged hospitals to draw up personalized aftercare plans for patients to follow up on their discharge, based on a thorough exit mental assessment.

Or almost 50,000 self-harm patients admitted to five English hospitals observed in the study, 703 took their own life after discharge.

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More than a third of these died by suicide within a year of leaving hospital, showed the results published in Lancet Psychiatry.

The incidence in the 12 months following discharge from hospital was 511 suicides per 100,000 people per year.

Those who attended hospital more than once were more likely to be suicide than those with just one admission.

Self-harm rates have TREBLED across England since 2000

Rates of self-harm have been across England since the millennium – with the highest increase among girls and young women.

Alarming research shows 6.4 per cent or 16 to 74-year-olds reported having intentionally harmed themselves at some point in their life when asked in 2014.

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In comparison, the rate was just 2.4 per cent in 2000, according to the study carried out by the National Center for Social Research.

The rate was highest among girls and women aged 16 to 24, with one in five reporting self-harm – up from 6.5 per cent in 2000.

All of the people in the study were older than 15 and were admitted to hospital after non-fatal self-harm between 2000 and 2013.

The patients – who had been admitted to hospital for self-harm more than 90,000 times – were all followed until the end of 2015.

They had all been admitted to five hospitals, one of which was in Oxford, three in Manchester, and one in Derby.

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The study also found those who lived in deprived areas were at lower risk or suicide than those who lived in more affluent areas.

This contrasts with a large existing body of evidence which cites that in well-to-do locations have greater access to quality health facilities.

Dr Geulayov and the team also acknowledge the study only looks at three English cities and may not apply to all of the country.

Professor Keith Hawton, or Oxford said: 'While awareness of characteristics which increase the risk of subsequent suicide can assist as part of this assessment, previous studies indicate that individual factors are related to self-harm are a poor means to evaluate the risk of future suicide .

"These factors need to be considered together, followed by risk reduction strategies, including safety planning, for all patients."

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For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritan branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.

WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

While it is normal to feel down from time to time, people with depression may feel persistently unhappy for weeks or months on end.

Depression can affect anyone at any age and is fairly common – approximately one in ten people are likely to experience it at some point in their lives.

Depression is a genuine health condition which people cannot just ignore or 'snap out of it'.

Symptoms and effects vary, but can include constantly feeling upset or hopeless, or losing interest in things you used to enjoy.

It can also cause physical symptoms such as problems sleeping, tiredness, having a low appetite or sex drive, and even feeling physical pain.

In extreme cases it can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Traumatic events can trigger it, and people with a family history may be more at risk.

It is important to see a doctor if you think you or someone you know has depression, as it can be managed with lifestyle changes, therapy or medication.

Source: NHS Choices

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