Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Patients Who Self-Harm Have Shorter Life Expectancy

Researchers reported today that people who self-harm have an increased risk of premature death. As published online in Lancet, they studied patients of all ages presenting to emergency departments in Oxford, Manchester, and Derby, England, after self-poisoning or self-injury from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2007. Patients were followed up to the end of 2009. 

Of the 30,950 individuals who presented with self-harm, 1,832 (6.1 percent) died before the end of follow-up. Death was more likely in patients than in the general population and occurred more in males than females. Deaths due to natural causes were 2 to 7.5 times more frequent than expected. For individuals who died of any cause, mean years of life lost was 31.4 years for male patients and 30.7 years for female patients. 

"Physical health and life expectancy are severely compromised in individuals who self-harm compared with the general population," concluded the researchers, who stressed that in managing patients who self-harm, clinicians assessing patients' psychosocial problems should also consider their physical needs.

More about assessing patients who self-harm can be found in the American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Suicide Assessment and Management, Second Edition here.

(Image: Masson/Shutterstock.com)