May 19, 2009

EITHNE DONNELLAN, Health Correspondent

SOME 112 children had to be treated for deliberate self harm at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin, over a five-year period, a new study indicates.

The children, who ranged from eight years upwards, were treated at the hospital between the years 2000 and 2005.

They have now been part of a follow-up study to see how they fared and while most of them were lost to follow-up, the parents or guardians of 39 of them agreed to take part, as did 10 of the children themselves.

The results from this small group indicate that one in five of the children made a repeat suicide attempt and one in 10 had repeated the attempt more than once. Those repeating the attempts were all girls.

Doctors had noted that 80 per cent of all the first suicide attempts were impulsive in nature but the authors of the follow-up study, published in the latest edition of the Irish Medical Journal, note the level of suicide risk as rated by the clinician at the time of first presentation at the emergency department as a result of deliberate self harm was not predictive of repeat deliberate self harm, with those rated as low suicide risk at the first episode just as likely to repeat as those rated high risk.

Therefore even those deemed to be at low risk at index episode are at risk of repetition and require thorough assessment and follow-up,” they said.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times