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'He left me a message on Facebook': comparing the risk profiles of self-harming patients who leave paper suicide notes with those who leave messages on new media

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Jessica R. Barrett, Hitesh Shetty, Matthew Broadbent, Sean Cross, Matthew Hugo Hotopf, Robert James Stewart, William Lee

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-220
Number of pages4
JournalBritish journal of psychiatry
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jun 2016
Accepted/In press11 May 2016
E-pub ahead of print8 Jun 2016


King's Authors


Background In cases of non-fatal self-harm, suicide notes are a major risk factor for repeated self-harm and suicide. Suicide notes can now be left on new media services, emails or text messages, as well as on paper.

Aims In a group of people who had harmed themselves, we aimed to compare new media note-leavers with paper note-leavers and characterise these groups demographically and by risk factors.

Method Clinical notes of patients who presented with non-fatal self-harm to two London emergency departments were anonymously searched for mentions of new media use. These were categorised and risk factors were compared for those who had left a new media note, a paper note, or no note to establish differences in risk of note-leaving.

Results New media note-leaving was associated with younger age and substance use; both risk factors for repeated self-harm. However, suicidal intent remained highest in paper note-leavers.

Conclusions Paper note-leavers remain at greatest risk, however new media note leaving is still correlated with risk factors related to repeated self-harm and suicide. Clinicians should enquire about new media use during emergency department assessments of self-harm.

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