Non-fatal repetition of self-harm: population-based prospective cohort study in Taiwan

Vincent C. H. Chen, Happy K. L. Tan, Andrew T. A. Cheng, Chung-Ying Chen, Long-Ren Liao, Robert Stewart, Michael Dewey, Martin Prince

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Background Repeated self-harm is relatively common and is linked with an elevated risk of eventual suicide. There has been no study of this involving a large sample from the Far East. Aims To estimate the risk over the medium term of non-fatal repetition of self-harm and identify predictive factors in those carrying out self-harm. Method A total of 970 individuals who had self-harmed were recruited from a community-based suicide behaviour register system in Nantou, Taiwan from July 2000 to February 2003. information regarding demography and suicide methods was collected. individuals were followed-up until December 2005 to examine the risk of repeated self-harm and independent predictive factors. Results Ninety cohort members had repeated self-harm during the follow-up period (accounting for 131 repeated self-harm episodes in all). The cumulative risks were 5.7% for the first year, 7.8% for the second year and 9.5% for the fourth year. The risk was highest within the first year after the self-harm event. Independent risk factors included female gender and self-cutting as well as self-poisoning with drugs. Effect of younger age was mediated through the choice of methods. Conclusions Individuals with self-harm have a high risk of repetition, especially within the first year. Suicide prevention strategies need to focus on intervening with this population to reduce their repetition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31 - 35
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


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