An emergency visit for self-harm by a teen could be the first sign of serious trouble. A recent Canadian study, published in the journal CMAJ, found that adolescents who had to make an emergency department visit for self-harm have a higher likelihood of recurrent visits, mortality, suicide, and higher health care costs. In other words, this should be seen as an immediate cause for concern and counseling.
The researchers were studying patterns in hospitalization to better understand the behavior linked to rising self-harm among adolescents. For this purpose, the team studied the hospitalization data of 403 805 adolescents (ages 13–17 years) who were rushed to Ontario emergency departments between 2011–2013. The participants were divided between adolescents who were admitted for self-harm (n 5661) and the control group which was composed of those who visited emergency departments without any self-harm (n 10731).
The team then compared the recurrent admission rates, suicides, overall mortality, and hospitalization costs between the two groups. Adolescents who were admitted for self-harm were found more likely to repeat the pattern with a shorter gap between visits to the emergency department. The mortality and suicide rates were also higher in these teens. In addition, the 5-year estimate of hospitalization costs for adolescents with self-harm amounted to $30 388, significantly higher than $19 055 for controls.