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Ann Emerg Med. 2006 Oct;48(4):459-66.

A clinical tool for assessing risk after self-harm.

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Centre for Suicide Prevention, University of Manchester, Manchester, England.



Our aim is to develop a risk-stratification model for use by emergency department (ED) clinical staff in the assessment of patients attending with self-harm.


Participants were patients who attended 5 EDs in Manchester and Salford, England, after self-harm between September 1, 1997, and February 28, 2001. Social, demographic, and clinical information was collected for each patient at each attendance. With data from the Manchester and Salford Self-Harm Project, a clinical decision rule was derived by using recursive partitioning to discriminate between patients at higher and lower risk of repetition or subsequent suicide occurring within 6 months. Data from 3 EDs were used for the derivation set. The model was validated with data from the remaining 2 EDs.


Data for 9,086 patients who presented with self-harm were collected during this study period, including 17% that reattended within 6 months and 22 patients who died by suicide within 6 months. A 4-question rule, with a sensitivity of 94% (92.1-95.0% [95% confidence interval]) and specificity of 25% (24.2-26.5% [95% confidence interval]), was derived to identify patients at higher risk of repetition or suicide.


Application of this simple, highly sensitive rule may facilitate assessment in the ED and help to focus psychiatric resources on patients at higher risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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