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2009 Deliberate Self Harm Registry Report Published

Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey, has welcomed the publication of the 2009 report from the Northern Ireland Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm.

The registry operates at accident and emergency (A&E) sites in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area. This is the third report produced since the Registry which is funded under the ‘Protect Life – A Shared Vision’ Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Key findings from the report for the 2009 year include:

  • 1,266 presentations due to self-harm were made by 988 people to the three A&E Departments in the Western Trust.. This represents a 4.3% and 7.5% reduction from 2008 and 2007 respectively;
  • Repeat attendances accounted for almost one in five (22%) of all self-harm linked presentations. This was similar to 2008 (21%);
  • The highest rates recorded were in the 15-19 female and 20-24 male age brackets;
  • Alcohol, while not a main method of self-harm, featured as a major contributing factor and was involved in 56.3% of all episodes. This represents a 17.8% reduction from 2008.

Commenting on the findings in the report, Michael McGimpsey said: “Given that deliberate self-harm is widely accepted as the single best predictor of future suicide, the information provided by the registry provides us with a unique insight into the patterns and actions of vulnerable people who are in emotional crisis.

“It also provides the Health and Social Care system with the information they require to allow services to be planned in response to those in greatest need.”

The Minister continued: “While it is encouraging to note the reduction in the number of self-harm presentations reported during 2009, the current economic climate will place additional pressures on local communities. Research has shown that unemployed people are two to three times more at risk of suicide.”

The Health Minister also welcomed the decision by the Public Health Agency to rollout the Deliberate Self-Harm Registry to the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust area. He said: “It is important this information is available to help inform the future service delivery plans of all Trusts and I therefore look forward to the Registry being rolled out across Northern Ireland in due course.”

Commenting on the developments Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, PHA said: “The Public Health Agency is committed to improving the mental wellbeing of the population and reducing suicide and self-harm. We know that it is important to collect and analyse self harm data and use it to target mental health and suicide prevention services at those currently in need of help. Building on the learning and work from the Western area, by establishing the Deliberate Self Harm Registry in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, is part of this commitment.

"We must also assist future generations, by ensuring that, from the earliest opportunity, our young people start life developing emotional resilience, to equip them to make the most of their opportunities.”

Notes to editors:

1. In 2007, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) Northern Ireland commissioned Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) to establish a pilot project to implement the work of the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) within the Western Health and Social Services Board area.

2. The Deliberate Self Harm Registry was jointly launched by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey and his Republic of Ireland counterpart, Mary Harney, in October 2007 as part of all island co-operation on suicide prevention.

3. The Registry is being piloted at three hospital A&E units in the WHSCT area – Altnagelvin, Tyrone County and Erne and it has also recently been rolled out to include the Belfast Trust area.

4. The report can be downloaded online.

5. Press enquiries to the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0074. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.