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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology
Title The prevalence of previous self-harm amongst self-poisoning patients in Sri Lanka
Volume 46
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
Page numbers 517-520
URL http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-010-0217-z
Background One of the most important components of
suicide prevention strategies is to target people who repeat
self-harm as they are a high risk group. However, there is
some evidence that the incidence of repeat self-harm is
lower in Asia than in the West. The objective of this study
was to investigate the prevalence of previous self-harm
among a consecutive series of self-harm patients presenting
to hospitals in rural Sri Lanka.
Method Six hundred and ninety-eight self-poisoning patients
presenting to medical wards at two hospitals in Sri Lanka were
interviewed about their previous episodes of self-harm.
Results Sixty-one (8.7%, 95% CI 6.7–11%) patients
reported at least one previous episode of self-harm [37
(10.7%) male, 24 (6.8%) female]; only 19 (2.7%, 95% CI 1.6–
4.2%) patients had made more than one previous attempt.
Conclusion The low prevalence of previous self-harm is
consistent with previous Asian research and is considerably
lower than that seen in the West. Explanations for these
low levels of repeat self-harm require investigation. Our
data indicate that a focus on the aftercare of those who
attempt suicide in Sri Lanka may have a smaller impact on
suicide incidence than may be possible in the West.

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