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Self Harm

Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It is a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress. Sometimes when people self-harm they intend to die but often the intention is more to punish themselves, express their distress or relieve unbearable tension. Self harm can also be a cry for help. Treatment for people who self-harm will usually involve seeing a therapist and could also involve taking antidepressant medication. Types of self harm can include cutting or burning of your skin, punching yourself, poisoning yourself with tablets, misusing alcohol or drugs, and deliberately starving yourself or binge eating. There are many, many ways to hurt yourself, including abusing drugs and alcohol or having an eating disorder. Sometimes, it's more important to focus on how someone is feeling rather than what they do to themselves. Quite often, people find that more helpful.

hospitalLevels of hospital stays for self-harm in Gateshead are significantly higher than the England average. In 2017/18 there were 495 emergency hospital admissions in Gateshead for intentional self harm [Chart - Hospital stays for self harm].[1] As a rate this was 245 per 100,000 people (Directly Standardised Rate - removing any differences due to age so that Gateshead is comparable with other areas), significantly higher than the England average of 186.

Hospital Stays for Self Harm

Ward level estimates showing the ratio of recorded emergency hospital admissions for self harm to that which would be expected based on the age profile in each ward have been produced. The expected standard is based on the England average, and so the England value is 100. The overall Gateshead average is 149 - this means that Gateshead has 1.49 times more emergency hospital admissions for self harm than would be expected for its age profile. Within Gateshead, 7 of the 22 wards are significantly higher than the Gateshead average, and all 7 range between 178 to 213 to the expected average of 100 [Map - Ward hospital admissions for self harm].[2]

teenagerThere were 133 hospital admissions for self harm in young people aged 10-24 in 2017/18, a rate of 386 per 100,000 (DSR). This is statistically similar to the England average of 421 [Chart - Hospital admissions for self harm aged 10-24].[3]

It is estimated that nationally between 10% and 13% of 15 to 16 year olds have self harmed in their lifetime.[4]


There were 46 suicides of people aged 15 and over registered in Gateshead in the period 2016-18, a rate of 8.7 per 100,000 (DSR). This compares with the North East average of 11.3, and the England average of 9.6. 35 of the suicides were men (a rate of 13.4), and only 11 women (a rate of 4.1). The rate has increased from a low of 6.2 per 100,000 in 2010-12 [Chart - Suicide rate].[5]

Data shows that in Gateshead those aged 35-64 are more likely to complete suicide than younger or older age groups [Chart - Suicide rate aged 35-64].[6]

The most common method of suicide in Gateshead between 2011 and 2014 was hanging or strangulation. which accounted for 56% of suicides. The next most common reason was self-poisoning, which accounted for 17%.[7]

51% of suicides were men who lived alone, compared with 38% of women living alone. 62% were either single, divorced or widowed.

33% had a relationship or family problem.

40% were unemployed, 19% were employed and 15% were retired.

19% had an alcohol related problem recorded in the 12 months prior to their death.

The highest suicide rate among the English regions was in North East England at 12.4 deaths per 100,000 population, while London had the lowest at 8.6 per 100,000.[5]

[1] PHE HES Emergency hospital admissions for intentional self harm - DSR, 2017/18 (Severe Mental Illness Profile website)

[2] PHE HES Emergency hospital admissions for intentional self harm ratio to expected admissions by ward, 2013/14 - 2017/18 (Mental Health and Wellbeing JSNA and Local Health websites)

[3] PHE HES Emergency hospital admissions for intentional self harm aged 10-24, DSR, 2017/18 (Child and Maternal Health website)

[4] Suicide and deliberate self-harm in children and adolescents, Fortune S and Hawton K, Current Paediatrics 15:575-580, 2005

[5] Suicide rate, PHE, 2016-18 (Suicide Prevention Profile website)

[6] Suicide rate by age, PHE, 2013-17 (Suicide Prevention Profile website)

[7] Audit of suicide and injury undetermined deaths in Gateshead, Gateshead Council, 2011 - 2014

Last modified on 9th December 2019

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