The validity and reliability of suicide statistics have been questioned and few nationwide studies of deliberate self-harm have been presented. Aim: To calculate rates of deliberate self-harm in Denmark in order to investigate trends and assess the reliability of hospital records. Method: A register study based on all individuals recorded with an episode of deliberate self-harm or probable deliberate self-harm in nationwide registers during 1994–2011. Results: A substantial difference in the rates of deliberate self-harm and probable deliberate self-harm was noted for both genders. The average incidence rate of deliberate self-harm for women and men was 130.7 (95% CI = 129.6–131.8) per 100,000 and 86.9 (95% CI = 86.0–87.8) per 100,000, respectively. The rates of deliberate self-harm for women increased from 137.6 (95% CI = 132.9–142.3) per 100,000 in 1994 to 152.7 (95% CI = 147.8–157.5) in 2011. For a subgroup of younger women aged 15–24 years, an almost threefold increase was observed, IRR = 2.5 (95% CI = 2.4–2.7). The most frequently used method was self-poisoning. Conclusion: The rates of deliberate self-harm and probable deliberate self-harm differed significantly. An increased incidence of deliberate self-harm among young Danish women was observed, despite detection bias. An improved registration procedure of suicidal behavior is needed.
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