Public Health Agency publishes self-harm statistics for Northern Ireland

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Friday, February 28th, 2014
To coincide with Self-Injury Awareness Day tomorrow, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is publishing the first Annual Report of the Northern Ireland Registry of Self-Harm. The Northern Ireland Registry of Self-Harm has been implemented across each of the five Health and Social Care Trusts since 1st April 2012. The purpose of the registry is to improve understanding about self-harm and related behaviours in Northern Ireland. The information gathered will be used to monitor trends and patterns over time and, perhaps most importantly, will help shape the development of services and support to meet need. The information will also help provide trusts and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety with a more accurate understanding of the impact of self-harm on Emergency Departments. The information can also be shared with partners and help build a better understanding of the extent of self-harm at a community level. The new publication reports on a single year and therefore it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions regarding trends. The findings should be seen as a ‘snap shot’ reflection and the first indication of local patterns. The key findings of the Annual Report 2012/13 are that between April 2012 and March 2013:
  • 5,970 people presented to Emergency Departments in Northern Ireland as a result of self-harm.
  • The total number of presentations for self-harm was 8,279.
  • 19% of people presented on more than one occasion during that period.
  • The Royal Victoria Hospital dealt with over 17% of self-harm presentations, followed by the Ulster Hospital with just over 14% and Altnagelvin with just under 13%.
  • The Belfast Trust accounted for almost 29% of presentations, South Eastern Trust with 20%, Western Trust 18%, and Northern and Southern Trusts with 17% each.
  • Overall the gender balance was even. However, in Belfast Trust males accounted for 54% while in the West females were the larger grouping accounting for 56%.
  • The 15 to 29 year old age category accounted for 43% of all self-harm presentations, the highest age bracket being 20-24 year olds (17%), followed by 15-19 year olds (14%) and 25-29 year olds (12%).
Brendan Bonner from the PHA oversees the implementation of the registry on a regional basis. “The report highlights the extent of self-harm and suicide ideation in Northern Ireland and demonstrates the challenges to wider society in terms of addressing the related issues.” Brendan said that the pressures associated with self-harm impact on the individual patient, their family and/or carer and the health and social care system. “There is a specific challenge for Emergency Departments in terms of the need for training and understanding of the issues related to self-harm and the need for interface and protocols between mental health services within trusts and the wider community. He added, “The PHA is committed to continuing to collect the data and report on the findings with the aim of working to develop a comprehensive analysis. This will eventually examine a five-year span and highlight some key trends that will develop an even deeper understanding of self-harm and the influence the design of services to support them.” The report can be found at
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