Abuse of alcohol is strongly linked to self-harming cases

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MANY of the 9,400 people who are seeking help in hospital A&E departments after self-harming have been drinking alcohol.

From Independent.ie

The number of these patients who have deliberately injured themselves peaks around midnight, and almost one-third are admitted on Sundays and Mondays.

The links to alcohol are also underlined by the increased number of self-harm patients who are treated in hospitals on public holidays.

The disturbing patterns have been confirmed in the newly published annual report of the National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm.

One in every 162 girls aged 15-19 and one in every 188 men in their early 20s were treated in hospital last year for self harm.

Nearly one-in-five of these patients at hospitals in Dublin north and the north east of the country left before receiving medical advice.

Those who sought help in hospitals in the south were most likely to be looked after.

The report pointed out that assessment and management procedures of these vulnerable patients is variable and inconsistent around the country.

It showed that there were 12,010 incidents in 2012 involving 9,483 patients, a 2pc decrease on the rate in 2011.

But the rate last year was still 12pc higher than in 2007.

The proportion of people who have tried to self harm previously is on the rise and 118 of those treated had injured themselves on at least five occasions.

Another 24 had self-harmed on 10 previous occasions.

The report said self-cutting was associated with an increased level of repetition.

Eve Griffin, one of the lead researchers, said the rate of self-harm among men had increased by 20pc since 2007 and gone up 6pc for women.

“The rate is higher for women but the gap between the genders is narrowing from 37pc in 2004-2005 to 17pc last year.

“The male rate varied from 107 per 100,000 in Galway county to 469 per 100,000 in Limerick city.

“For women, it was lowest in Monaghan and highest in Limerick city. High rates were also seen among men in Louth and Kerry and for women living in south Dublin,” she added.

Drug overdose was the most common method of self-harm, particularly among women.

Minor tranquillisers and medicines containing paracetamol and anti-depressants or mood stabilisers were widely used.

The number of patients who tried to hang themselves was at the highest yet at 776 and 75pc higher than in 2007.

The report pointed to the growing evidence showing the success of community-based self-harm and suicide prevention programmes.

It called for careful monitoring by doctors of minor tranquillisers, which were the most common type of medication involved in cases of intentional overdose.

It warned that given the high risk of subsequent suicide among people using highly lethal methods of self-harm, suicide risk assessment combined with psychiatric and psychosocial assessment should be standard care when these patients present at A&E.