Methods of deliberate self-harm in a tertiary hospital in South Africa
CITATION: Pieterse, D. et al. 2020. Methods of deliberate self-harm in a tertiary hospital in South Africa. South African Journal of Psychiatry, 26:a1399, doi:10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v26i0.1399.
The original publication is available at https://sajp.org.za
Background: Little is known about the methods of deliberate self-harm (DSH) in South Africa (SA), despite the importance of means restriction as a public health strategy to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with self-harm. Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the range of methods used in DSH and identify the socio-demographic and clinical factors associated with violent and non-violent methods of DSH among patients treated at a tertiary hospital in SA. Setting: The study was conducted at an urban, tertiary level emergency department at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Method: Data were collected from 238 consecutive DSH patients who presented for emergency department treatment at the hospital. Logistic regression models were used to explore the factors associated with violent and non-violent methods of DSH. Results: Self-poisoning was the most common method of self-harm (80.3%). Prescription medication was the most common form of self-poison (57.6%), while a large number of patients used non-prescription paracetamol (40.9%). In the regression analysis, male gender, stating that the reason for DSH was to escape a situation and history of substance use were associated with violent method of DSH. Conclusion: Improved monitoring of prescription medications commonly used in DSH is integral to public health suicide prevention strategies in SA. This study underscores the need for substance use interventions in the healthcare setting.