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We describe a national cohort of individuals surviving an episode of deliberate self-harm (DSH). Subsequent admissions for DSH and mortality over the following 13 years were studied.
In 1981, 8304 individuals were discharged from Scottish general hospitals with a diagnosis of attempted suicide (E950–959). They were followed-up to the end of 1994 using the Scottish Linked Data Set. Mortality was compared to the Scottish population using person-years analysis.
2624 people (31.6%) were readmitted with further episodes of DSH. The median number of readmissions was I, range 1–137. The observed: expected ratio for all-cause mortality was 2.26 (95% CI 2.13–2.26). One hundred and sixty-eight people (2%) died from suicide, and 46 (0.6%) from undetermined causes. The observed: expected ratio for suicide plus undetermined deaths was 12.17 (95% CI 10.64-13.91). Accidental deaths in men and homicide deaths in men and women were elevated. The pattern of deaths from other causes suggested that alcohol misuse was a contributory factor.
People admitted to general hospitals in Scotland after attempted suicide are at high risk of readmission for further episodes of DSH. Long-term follow-up of such large cohorts is impractical, but services should review the scope for intervention in alcohol misuse following DSH.
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