PHA publishes three year report into self-harm in Northern Ireland

PHA publishes three year report into self-harm in Northern Ireland

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has published a report on the extent of self-harm in Northern Ireland over the past three years.

The Northern Ireland Registry of Self-Harm Three-Year Report 2012/13-2014/15 is an analysis of the prevalence of self-harm presentations to the 12 local Emergency Departments (EDs) of Northern Ireland’s hospitals.

The purpose of the registry is to improve understanding about self-harm and related behaviours in Northern Ireland and to help shape the development of services and support to better meet the need of those represented by figures in the registry report.

The report shows that the period from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2015, 25,620 self-harm presentations to EDs in Northern Ireland were recorded, made by 16,301 individuals. There was an even gender balance in presentations (12,800 by males and 12,820 by females). Across the three-year period, an average of 23 presentations involving self-harm were recorded per day.

Co-author of the report is Brendan Bonner, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement (western area) with the PHA.

“This report provides us with a better understanding of self-harm attendances to EDs. Self-harm has a serious impact on the person involved and those around them, so we want to increase our understanding of the issue and key trends around this type of behaviour so we can design our services to best meet the needs of those who need them.

“Data have now been collected for three full calendar years, which provide sufficient statistics over a significant period of time to identify the nature of the problem, chart key trends of self-harming behaviour, and inform our future approach to tackling this issue in our communities in a targeted and effective way.

Summary of trends, 2012/13 to 2014/15

During the period March 2012 to April 2015, the number of self-harm presentations recorded by the registry increased by 7% (from 8,279 to 8,885), while the number of persons increased by 11% (from 5,977 to 6,630).
Between 2012/13 and 2014/15, the overall rate of self-harm in Northern Ireland per 100,000 of the population increased by 12%, from 334 to 373 per 100,000. The male rate increased by 13% (from 335 to 377 per 100,000) and the female rate increased by 11% (from 334 to 371 per 100,000).
 Between 2012/13 and 2014/15 there was a 20% increase in the rate of self-harm among 10-34 year-olds, from 528 to 633 per 100,000. In particular, the rate among 15-19 year-olds increased by 30% and 29% among males and females respectively.

If someone has done something which might result in serious harm they should go to a hospital Emergency Department or call 999 if more urgent assistance is needed.

If you or someone you know has not self-harmed, but are in distress and at risk of self-harm or suicide, seek help from either a GP or ring the confidential Lifeline service on 0808 808 8000.The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at

The PHA has also developed some booklets for people who self-harm and their families. ‘Improving the lives of people who self-harm’ is available at and ‘Caring for someone who has self-harmed or had suicidal thoughts’ at

Notes to the editor

1.The Northern Ireland Registry of Self-Harm Three Years Report 2012/13 to 2014/15 is available here:

2. Definition of self-harm
The term ‘self-harm’ was derived from the term ‘parasuicide’. The definition of ‘parasuicide’ was developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO)/ Euro Multicentre Study Working Group as: ‘An act with non-fatal outcome in which an individual deliberately initiates a non-habitual behaviour, that without intervention from others will cause self-harm, or deliberately ingests a substance in excess of the prescribed or generally recognised therapeutic dosage, and which is aimed at realising changes that the person desires via the actual or expected physical consequences.’
Internationally, the term ‘self-harm’ has superseded ‘parasuicide’. In recognition of this, the term ‘self-harm’ has been used in this report