Suicide following self-harm: Findings from the Multicentre Study of self-harm in England, 2000–2012

Keith Hawton, Helen Bergen, Jayne Cooper, Pauline Turnbull, Keith Waters, Jennifer Ness, Nav Kapur

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    AbstractBackground Self-harm is a key risk factor for suicide and it is important to have contemporary information on the extent of risk. Methods Mortality follow-up to 2012 of 40,346 self-harm patients identified in the three centres of the Multicentre Study of Self-harm in England between 2000 and 2010. Results Nineteen per cent of deaths during the study period (N=2704) were by suicide, which occurred in 1.6% of patients (2.6% of males and 0.9% of females), during which time the risk was 49 times greater than the general population risk. Overall, 0.5% of individuals died by suicide in the first year, including 0.82% of males and 0.27% of females. While the absolute risk of suicide was greater in males, the risk relative to that in the general population was higher in females. Risk of suicide increased with age. While self-poisoning had been the most frequent method of self-harm, hanging was the most common method of subsequent suicide, particularly in males. The number of suicides was probably a considerable underestimate as there were also a large number of deaths recorded as accidents, the majority of which were poisonings, these often involving psychotropic drugs. Limitations The study was focussed entirely on hospital-presenting self-harm. Conclusions The findings underline the importance of prevention initiatives focused on the self-harm population, especially during the initial months following an episode of self-harm. Estimates using suicide and open verdicts may underestimate the true risk of suicide following self-harm; inclusion of accidental poisonings may be warranted in future risk estimates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-151
    Number of pages5
    JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
    Issue number0
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Self-harm
    • Mortality follow-up
    • Suicide
    • Linkage study


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