Self-Harm

Latest Findings from the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland                                                                     

The latest 2019 findings from the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland can be found in the tables and charts below.

The annual report 2019 can be viewed here.

National Self-Harm Registry Ireland 2019 statistics at a glance

1) Hospital Presentations

For the period from 1 January to 31 December 2019, the Registry recorded 12,465 self-harm presentations to hospital that were made by 9,705 individuals. Thus, the number of self-harm presentations and the number of persons involved were consistent with that reported in 2018.

2) Rate of Self-Harm

The age-standardised rate of individuals presenting to hospital in the Republic of Ireland following self-harm in 2019 was 206 per 100,000. This represents a 2% decrease in the age-standardised rate in 2019.The rate in 2019 was 8% lower than the peak rate of 223 per 100 000 reported for 2010. However, the rate in 2019 was still 10% higher than in 2007, the year before economic recession.

3) Rate of Self-Harm by age and gender

There was a striking pattern in the incidence of self-harm when examined by age. The rate was highest among the young. At 726 per 100,000, the peak rate for women was among 15–19 years old. This rate implies that one in every 138 girls in this age group presented to hospital in 2019 as a consequence of self-harm. The peak rate for men was 485 per 100,000 among 20–24 years old or one in every 206 men. The incidence of self-harm gradually decreased with increasing age in men. This was the case to a lesser extent in women as the rates were relatively similar across the 30 to 49 years age range (222 – 263 per 100,000 in the relevant 5 year age bands).

4) Rates by City and County

There was widespread variation in the male and female self-harm rate when examined by city/ county of residence. At a national level, the female self-harm rate exceeded the male rate by 21%. The magnitude of this gender difference varied by city/county.

In 2019, the highest rates for males and females were seen in Limerick City (370 and 468 per 100 000 respectively). The rates in Limerick City for both males and females were approximately twice that of their representative national rates. High rates were also seen for males and females in Cork City (302 and 307 per 100 000 respectively)

5) Method of self-harm  

Approximately 62% of all self-harm presentations to hospitals in 2019 involved a drug overdose. Drug overdose was more commonly used as a method of self-harm by women than men, involved in 67% of female and 56% of male episodes. Alcohol was involved in 31% of presentations. Alcohol was more likely to be involved in male episodes of self-harm than female episodes (36% vs 28% respectively).

Cutting was the only other common method of self-harm, involved in 29% of all episodes. Cutting was more common in men (31%) than women (28%).

Attempted hanging was involved in 8% of all self-harm presentations (12% for men and 5% for women). The number of self-harm presentations involving hanging increased more than twofold between 2007 and 2019 from 444 presentations to 1,029, with a 4% decrease in 2019, compared to 2018.

6) Methods of self-harm by age and gender

The greater involvement of drug overdose as a method of self-harm for women is illustrated in the charts below. Drug overdose also accounted for a higher proportion of self-harm presentations in the older age groups, in particular for women, whereas self-cutting was less common. Self-cutting was most common among young people, involved in 37% of presentations by boys and 40% of presentations by girls aged under 15 years.

Other Documents

Information on calculating rates of self-harm

Find our Standing Operating Procedures Manual here.

The Registry Team

Dr. Mary Joyce, Professor Ella Arensman, Conal Wrigley, Dr. Paul Corcoran, Dr. Eve Griffin, Niall McTernan, Sarah Nicholson and Data Registration Officers.

For further information, please contact Dr. Mary Joyce, Manager of the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland, Room 4.28, Western Gateway Building, Room, University College Cork, Ireland.

Tel: +353 (0)21 420 5542
Email: M.Joyce@ucc.ie