Year: 2023 Source: Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. (2023). SIEC No: 20231381
Objective: We investigated patterns of service contact for self-harm and suicidal ideation recorded by a range of human service agencies - including health, police and child protection - with specific focus on overlap and sequences of contacts, age of first contact and demographic and intergenerational characteristics associated with different service responses to self-harm. Methods: Participants were 91,597 adolescents for whom multi-agency linked data were available in a longitudinal study of a population cohort in New South Wales, Australia. Self-harm and suicide-related incidents from birth to 18 years of age were derived from emergency department, inpatient hospital admission, mental health ambulatory, child protection and police administrative records. Descriptive statistics and binomial logistic regression were used to examine patterns of service contacts. Results: Child protection services recorded the largest proportion of youth with reported self-harm and suicidal ideation, in which the age of first contact for self-harm was younger relative to other incidents of self-harm recorded by other agencies. Nearly 40% of youth with a health service contact for self-harm also had contact with child protection and/or police services for self-harm. Girls were more likely to access health services for self-harm than boys, but not child protection or police services. Conclusion: Suicide prevention is not solely the responsibility of health services; police and child protection services also respond to a significant proportion of self-harm and suicide-related incidents. High rates of overlap among different services responding to self-harm suggest the need for cross-agency strategies to prevent suicide in young people.