Self harm higher in north west

Self Harm Mental Health
Self Harm Mental Health

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is today publishing a report on the prevalence of self-harm in the western area of Northern Ireland over the past six years.

The Northern Ireland Registry of Self-Harm Western Area: Six Year Summary Report 2007–2012 gives an overview of the number of self-harm presentations in that particular area. This is the first report of its kind which has systematically collected data over a six year period and reported on trends and issues identified during the period.

In 2007 a pilot initiative was commissioned as part of the implementation of the ‘Protect Life’ strategy to monitor self-harm reporting in Northern Ireland. The Self-Harm Registry was initially piloted in the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) area, covering the period 2007–2010. Following the success of the project, the programme was mainstreamed and rolled out to all five Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust areas in Northern Ireland in April 2012.

The registry represents a unique source of information on self-harm in Northern Ireland and now reports data to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and HSC Trusts on a quarterly basis. Work has also commenced on the retrospective collection of data for all five trusts.

Co-author of the report, Brendan Bonner, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement (Western) at the PHA, said: “Data have now been collected for the Western Trust area for six full calendar years, which provides sufficient statistics over a significant period of time to begin analysis of trends and highlight key issues in respect of self-harm prevalence in this area.

“The highest rates of self-harm in the western area were observed among females and young people. Rates were higher in urban areas, which is consistent with international findings. While the rates in the western area are higher than those recorded in the Republic of Ireland or England, the profile and pattern of self-harm is consistent.”

Self Harm Mental Health

Self Harm Mental Health

The six year summary report for the western area is being launched today at the 2015 Self-Harm Symposium: A Global Challenge. The event is being held to mark the beginning of Self-Harm Awareness Week. The day-long learning event is for professionals from the statutory and community and voluntary sectors working in the field of self-harm.

Key findings from the six year summary report for the western area:

• For the period from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2012, the registry recorded 8,175 self-harm presentations to Emergency Departments in the western area, involving 4,733 individuals.

• During this six year period, 54% of all presentations were made by females and 46% were made by males.

• The rate of self-harm in 2012 was 6% higher than in 2007, an increase that was more pronounced for males than females (9% and 3% respectively).

• Rates of self-harm presentations were consistently higher among those in younger age groups for both genders. The self-harm rates peaked among females aged 15 to 19 years (837 per 100,000). The peak rate for males was among those aged 20–24 years, at 809 per 100,000. Almost half of all presentations (45%) were made by people aged under 30 years and 89% were made by people aged under 50 years. In the majority of age groups, the number of self-harm acts by females exceeded that of males.

• The findings from the report indicate that incidence of hospital-treated self-harm in the western area of Northern Ireland is over 60% higher than that in the Republic of Ireland (342 versus 211 per 100,000). However it should be noted that there are different heath systems in operation in each country. Health and social services provision ensures, there is free access to healthcare for all residents of Northern Ireland, while there is a fee for each visit to the ED in the Republic of Ireland for non-medical card holders.

The report contains the first of four supplementary reports. The first looks at trends in repetition while the follow-up supplements will analyse aftercare, method of self-harm and alcohol and socio economic factors and self-harm.

The second Annual Report from the Northern Ireland Registry of Self Harm will also be launched today by the PHA. The Northern Ireland Registry of Self Harm Annual Report 2013/14 is an analysis of the prevalence of self-harm presentations to the 12 local Emergency Departments. This information is being used to inform the design of a new community based service, to inform Emergency Departments on key service issues associated with self-harm, and to inform families and carers.

Both reports can be found at

If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at

• The Samaritans guide to reporting responsibly about suicide can be found here:

• The 2015 Self-Harm Symposium: A Global Challenge will be held at Riddel Hall