Alcohol fuels 30% of self-harm cases

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Alcohol is involved in almost a third of deliberate self-harm acts in Cork, prompting experts in suicidal behaviour to urge people to be cautious when using alcohol this Christmas. Findings by the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) released to The Cork News show that 30% of self-harm patients in Cork City and 29.5% of those in the county had used alcohol.

NSRF Director of Research, Dr Ella Arensman confirmed indications that alcohol-fuelled public holidays are a catalyst for those seeking to self-harm. She stated that on seasonal patterns, alcohol-related deliberate self-harm increased in December, particularly among men. For women, cases of self harm where alcohol was involved were highest in January.

In comparison, non alcohol-related deliberate self-harm dropped for both sexes during the final month of the year.  “In the past we have repeatedly seen peaks of deliberate self-harm around public holidays, ” said Dr Arensman. These include New Year ’s Day, the day after St Patrick ’s Day and the May and June Bank Holidays. Research also indicates that alcohol is likely to be one of the factors underlying the pattern of presentations with deliberate self-harm by time of day and day of week. It has been shown that presentations peak in the hours around midnight and almost one-third of all presentations occur on Sundays and Mondays.

The First Report of the Suicide Support and Information System, compiled by the NSRF and launched this year, recommended that, based on the association between alcohol and drug abuse with suicide, national strategies should be intensified to increase awareness of the risks involved in the use and misuse of alcohol, starting at pre-adolescent age. It was further outlined in the report that national strategies to reduce access to alcohol and drugs should also be intensified along with active consultation and collaboration between the mental health services and addiction treatment services for the best interests of patients who present with dual diagnosis, both psychiatric disorder and alcohol/drug abuse.