Hospital pressure to manage self-harm rise
SELF-HARM is adding to the pressure on the Gold Coast's stretched emergency departments, according to mental health experts who want non-fatal suicidal behaviour (NFSB) monitored.
A study on arrivals to ED at the Gold Coast University Hospital found an average of 1320 presentations each year were due to deliberate self-harm.
More than 9045 people presented at the ED between 2005 and 2015 and appoximately one in five returned.
Most disturbingly, the 10-year study, released last year, found the steepest increase was in the number of youths and children presenting with self harm - an indicator that increases the risk of suicide.
The study was undertaken by the Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention and Gold Coast Health and published in Australiasian Psychiatry.
Griffith University researcher Professor David Crompton OAM, who worked on the study, said self-harm arrivals at emergency departments should be monitored nationally.
"Suggestions that this behaviour is attention seeking simply isn't true," Prof Crompton said.
"It is about dealing with immense psychological distress. We see many repeat occurrence of the behaviour in which the patient is ultimately at risk of taking their own life.
"The highest risk is within the first 12 months of NFSB but even 10 years later people are more at risk than those who haven't ever displayed the behaviour."
Prof Crompton said the increase in the number of younger people self-harming was not a Gold Coast specific problem, but a worldwide phenomenon.
"Around Australia and the rest of the world children as young as seven are taking their life by suicide.
"It is a tragedy but it is happening, there are multiple issues social determinants for it."
The study, Trends and repetition of non-fatal suicidal behaviour, found those aged 15-24 years, particularly females, presented most frequently.
"Big hospitals in Brisbane see on average 25 mental health presentations a day so self-harm is a notable proportion that does add pressure to the system," Prof Crompton said.
"Keeping in mind each person that comes in can be there from anywhere between three to seven hours.
"From a public health perspective, putting interventions in place and identifying those at risk ultimately does reduce some of the pressure on emergency departments.
"The goal should be developing preventive strategies."
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