June 10, 2009
Publication: Irish Examiner
Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Author: by Evelyn Ring
Headline: 10% of people who deliberately self harm leave hospital before assessment
ONE in 10 people who engaged in severe, deliberate self harm in the last two years left hospital before being assessed. Such patients would have attempted hanging or drowning and would be at high risk of a repeated and possibly fatal attempt. Director of research at the National Suicide Research Foundation, Dr Ella Arens- man, said she was stunned by the number of people engaging in highly lethal self-harm methods who left hospital without assessment figures ranged from "I was surprised the figure was so high as I had thoughtit was lower. If there is noappropriate assessment andtreatment, the risk of thesepeople trying it again andmaybe fatally, is very high. "While there are nofigures available, we doknow that people who havesurvived an act of attemptedhanging or drowning aremore likely to take theirlives than people whosurvive an act of self cuttingor taking an overdose." Dr Arensman said thesituation underlined theneed for a national-based as-sessment procedure and evidence-based interventionsspecifically targeting patientswho repeatedly self harm.
There are more than11,000 presentations toaccident and emergencydepartments by around 8,500 individuals every year. New data from the Na-tional Registry of DeliberateSelf Harm, also shows thatin the last two years, a highproportion of deliberate selfharm patients left A&E be-fore receiving an assessmentin all four Health ServiceExecutive areas from 11%in the HSE South to 14%in Dublin North East. Currently, the treatment aperson receives depends onthe hospital they attend. It also found a widevariation in aftercare, with 15% of patients admitted topsychiatric care in Dublin-Midlands, whereas inDublin North East this onlyoccurred in 7% of the cases. After-care for patientsusing more lethal self harmmethods was higher — at-tempted hanging accountedfor 32% of psychiatricadmissions while it was 25% for attempted drowning. Dr Arensman said deliber-ate self harm was still notregarded as a priority issue. "I still come across people who still make a very bigdistinction between non-fatal self harm and suicide. "Even if the nationalguidelines became availabletomorrow," she added, "itwould not solve the problem because people need tobe trained to use them andimplement proper assess-ment self-harm patients."
• Samaritans 1850 609090;also visit www.aware.ie ormentalhealthireland.ie.