Lifetime and current costs of supporting young adults who deliberately poisoned themselves in childhood and adolescence

Sarah Byford, Barbara Barrett, Azza Aglan, Val Harrington, Heather Burroughs, Michael Kerfoot, Richard C. Harrington

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Little is known about the long-term economic consequences of child and adolescent mental health problems, despite concerns that costs in later life may be significant. Aims: To evaluate current and lifetime costs of young adults who deliberately poisoned themselves in childhood. Method: Prospective cohort study of 129 young adults mean age 21 who as teenagers had taken part in a randomized trial following deliberate self-poisoning. Lifetime and current costs of public sector services were calculated and compared to those of a matched general population control group. Results: The self-poisoning group incurred significantly greater lifetime costs than the controls. They used more service-provided accommodation, special education and hospital services, incurred greater criminal justice costs and received more social security benefits. Higher costs in the self-poisoning group were significantly associated with conduct disorder, hopelessness, previous suicide attempts, being male and being in care prior to the self-poisoning event. Conclusions: Child and adolescent mental health problems predict significant costs compared to general population controls. This study provides indications of those groups of young people who incur high costs and for whom early intervention should be considered. © 2009 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)297-306
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Mental Health
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Costs
    • Deliberate self-poisoning
    • Economics


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