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Pushpakumara PHGJ, Thennakoon SUB, Rajapakse TN, Abeysinghe R, Dawson AH. PLoS One 2019; 14(2): e0199486.


Central Clinical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


(Copyright © 2019, Public Library of Science)






INTRODUCTION: Repetition of deliberate self-harm is an important predictor of subsequent suicide. Repetition rates in Asian countries appear to be significantly lower than in western high-income countries.

METHODological differences in studies, and the impact of access to means of self-harm with comparatively higher lethality have been suggested as reasons for these reported differences. This prospective study determines the rates and demographic patterns of deliberate self-poisoning (DSP), suicide and repeated deliberate self-harm resulting non-fatal and fatal outcomes in rural Sri Lanka.

METHODS: Details of DSP admission in all hospitals (n = 46) and suicides reported to all police stations (n = 28) in a rural district were collected for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013. Demographic details of the cohort of patients admitted to all hospitals in 2011 due to deliberate self-poisoning (N = 4022), were screened to link with patient records and police reports of the successive two years with high sensitivity using a computer program. Then high specificity manual matching of all screened links was performed to identify repetition within 2 years of initial presentation. Life time repetition was assessed in a randomly selected subset of DSP patients (n = 433).

RESULTS: There were 15,639 DSP admissions, aged more than 9 years, and 1078 suicides during the study period. The incidence of deliberate self-poisoning and suicide in the population within the study area were 248.3/100,000 and 20.7/100,000 respectively, in 2012. Repetition rates at four weeks, one-year and two-years were 1.9% (95% CI 1.5-2.3%), 5.7% (95% CI 5.0-6.4) and 7.9% (95% CI 7.1-8.8) respectively. The median interval between two attempts were 92 (IQR 10-238) and 191 (IQR 29-419.5) days for the one and two-year repetition groups. The majority of patients used the same poison in the repeat attempt. The age and duration of hospital stay of individuals with repetitive events were not significantly different from those who had no repetitive events. The rate of suicide at two years following DSP was 0.7% (95% CI 0.4-0.9%). The reported life time history of deliberate self-harm attempts was 9.5% (95% CI 6.7-12.2%).

CONCLUSIONS: The comparatively low rates of repetition in rural Sri Lanka was not explained by higher rates of suicide, access to more lethal means or differences in study methodology.

Language: en


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