Parasuicide referrals and subsequent transfers to psychiatric in-patient care were recorded for January to April, 1972 to 1996. Information regarding the psychiatric outcome of transfers for the years 1985, 1990 and 1994 was obtained by case note review. Parasuicide referrals show a decline from 1972 to 1990 but they have more than doubled since then. Referrals transferred to in-patient psychiatric care fell from 10.7 to 2.8% during 1985 to 1994. Fewer patients with acute stress reaction, adjustment disorder, personality disorder and substance misuse are being transferred. Transfers of patients with ‘severe mental illness' have remained constant.