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SUICIDE AND SEVERE SELF HARM PREVENTION IN PRIMARY CARE. Dr Khalid Aziz Consultant Psychiatrist Barnet Dr Henry Andrews Consultant Psychiatrist Enfield Dr Leon Rozewicz Clinical Director Crisis & Emergency. Resilience?.

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suicide and severe self harm prevention in primary care


Dr Khalid Aziz Consultant Psychiatrist Barnet

Dr Henry Andrews Consultant Psychiatrist Enfield

Dr Leon Rozewicz ClinicalDirector Crisis & Emergency

  • Everyone experiences stress and difficult circumstances during their life.
  • Most people can handle these tough times and may even be able to make something good from a difficult situation.
  • Resilience is the ability to bounce back after experiencing trauma or stress, to adapt to changing circumstances and respond positively to difficult situations.
  • It is the ability to learn and grow through the positive and the negative experiences of life, turning potentially traumatic experiences into constructive ones.
  • Being resilient involves engaging with friends and family for support, and using coping strategies and problem-solving skills effectively to work through difficulties.
contributory factors individual well being
Contributory Factors - Individual Well-Being
  • Self Image: sense of self, including self-esteem secure identity, ability to cope, and mental health and well-being
  • Behavior: social skills including life skills, communication, flexibility, and caring
  • Spirit: sense of purpose, including motivation, purpose in life, spirituality, beliefs, and meaning
  • Heart: emotional stability, including emotional skills, humor, and empathy
  • Mind: problem solving skills, including planning, problem-solving, help-seeking, and critical and creative-thinking.
  • Body: physical health, physical energy, and physical capacity
a person s reaction to life events main factors
A Person’s Reaction to Life Events - Main Factors

1. Individual Health and Well-Being - Sense of self, social skills, sense of purpose, emotional stability, problem-solving skills, and physical health.

2. Pre-Disposing or Individual Factors - Genes, gender and gender identity, personality, ethnicity/culture, socio-economic background, and social/geographic inclusion or isolation.

3. Life History and Experience - Family history and context, previous physical and mental health, exposure to trauma, past social and cultural experiences, and history of coping.

4. Social and Community Support - Support and understanding from family, friends, local doctor, local community, school, level of connectedness, safe and secure support environments, and availability of sensitive professionals/carers and mental health practitioners.

myth vs fact
Myth vs. Fact

Myth: People who talk about suicide don’t die by suicide.

Fact: Many people who die by suicide have given definite warnings to family and friends of their intentions. Always take any comment about suicide seriously.

Myth: Suicide happens without warning.

Fact: Most suicidal people give many clues and warning signs regarding their suicidal intention.

myth vs fact1
Myth vs. Fact

Myth: People who are suicidal are fully intent on dying.

Fact: Most suicidal people are undecided about living or dying – which is called suicidal ambivalence. A part of them wants to live; however, death seems like the only way out of their pain and suffering. They may allow themselves to “gamble with death,” leaving it up to other to save them.

Myth: Males are more likely to be suicidal.

Fact: Men die by suicide more often than women. However, women attempt suicide three times more often than men.

myth vs fact2
Myth vs. Fact

Myth: Asking a depressed person about suicide will push him/her to kill themselves..

Fact: Studies have shown that patients with depression have these ideas and talking about them does not increase the risk of them taking their own life.

Myth: Improvement following a suicide attempt or crisis means that the risk is over.

Fact: Most suicides occur within days or weeks of “improvement” when the individual has the energy and motivation to actually follow through with his/her suicidal thoughts.

myth vs fact3
Myth vs. Fact

Myth: Once a person attempts suicide the pain and shame will keep them from trying again.

Fact: The most common psychiatric illness that ends in suicide is major depression, a recurring illness. Every time a patient gets depressed, the risk of suicide returns.

Myth: Sometimes a bad event can push a person to suicide.

Fact: Suicide also results from serious psychiatric disorders, not just a single event.

Myth: Suicide occurs in great numbers around holidays in November and December.

Fact: Highest rates of suicide are in April while the lowest rates are in December.

suicide definition
Suicide - Definition

Suicide is a multi-determined phenomenon that occurs against a background of complex interacting biological, social, psychological and environmental risk and protective factors.

Despite the complexity of this phenomenon, suicide can be prevented.

“Ideation” – thinking about or planning for suicide

suicide uk incidence
Suicide - UK Incidence

Third largest cause of death in Britain of premature mortality (after heart disease and cancer) (World Health Organization, 2000).

In 2007 there were still 7.9 suicides per 100 000 people - 4000 incidents/yr.

Younger people are more likely to die by suicide than older people.

Statistics show that in 16 to 24 year-olds, 5% have attempted suicide, compared with 2% of 65 to 74year-olds. However, the rate among people over 85 rises again

suicide uk incidence1
Suicide - UK Incidence

Men are five times as likely to die by suicide as women. (WHO - Global Burden of Disease: 2004 Update report (World Health Organization, 2008)

Of people in the UK who die by suicide, only about 25% were in contact with mental health services in the 12 months before the suicide

Although it is generally acknowledged that most had a diagnosis of a mental disorder at the time of their death (Bertolote & Fleischmann, 2002).

In some studies, the rate of a diagnosed mental illness of those who have killed themselves has been found to be more than 80% (Arsenault-Lapierreet al, 2004; Fleischmann et al, 2005; McManus et al, 2009).

suicide uk incidence2
Suicide - UK Incidence

Typical GP will see one suicide every five years on their list

One a year in a 10 000 group practice

No single assessment tool

risk factors for suicide socio demographic
Risk Factors for Suicide:Socio-Demographic

Females more likely to attempt than males

Males more likely to die

Young and Old

Poverty, unemployment


risk factors for suicide family and childhood
Risk Factors for Suicide:Family and Childhood

Parental depression, substance misuse, suicide

Parental divorce


risk factors for suicide mental health problems
Risk Factors for Suicide:Mental Health Problems

Impulsive, aggressive or socially withdrawn

Poor problem solving ability

Mood disorders; bipolar, psychotic depression

Substance/alcohol misuse


Recent discharge from psychiatric hospital

risk factors for suicide suicidal behaviour
Risk Factors for Suicide:Suicidal Behaviour

Access to means (guns, drugs, tablets)

History of suicide attempts

Specific plans

other individual suicide risk factors
Other Individual Suicide Risk Factors
  • Impulsivity - Contributes to suicidal behavior, especially in context of depression or bipolar disorder
  • Family History - Many mental disorders run in families, due to genetic factors
  • Prior Suicide Attempt
suicide questions
Suicide Questions

How does the future look to you? What are your hopes?

Do you wish you could just not wake up in the morning?

Have you considered doing anything to harm yourself, or to take your own life?

Have you made actual plans to kill yourself? What are they?

What has stopped you from doing anything so far?

self harm
Self Harm
  • An intentional act of self-poisoning or self-injury irrespective of the type of motivation or degree of suicidal intent.
  • Includes suicide attempts as well as acts where little or no suicidal intent is involved
      • To reduce internal tension,
      • Distract themselves from intolerable situations
      • Form of interpersonal communication of distress or other difficult feelings
      • To punish themselves
problems of definition
Problems of definition
  • Given the varying types of self-harm, the different contexts in which it occurs and the different motives and meaning for the individual concerned, defining self-harm is not straightforward.
  • The NICE guidelines (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, 2004) use the short and broad definition:
      • ‘Self-poisoning or self-injury, irrespective of the apparent purpose of the act.’
  • The service users’ National Self-Harm Network (NSHN; 1998) presented an alternative description:
      • ‘Self-injury is frequently the least possible amount of damage and represents extreme self-restraint.’
self harm1
Self Harm

Can sometimes be a bizarre form of self-preservation.

Nevertheless it covers a wide spectrum of behaviour, with harmful physical effects

Person who repeatedly self-harms is at a higher risk of suicide.

self harm2
Self Harm

The UK has one of the highest self-harm rates in Europe, reported at about 400 per 100 000 people (Horrocks et al, 2002).

It has been estimated that there are 170 000 self-harm presentations at hospitals each year in England (Kapur et al, 1998)

Self-harm has been quoted as one of the five top causes of acute hospital admissions, but this greatly underestimates the problem since many people do not attend hospital.

As with suicide, younger people are more likely to self-harm than older individuals. Of those who present at hospitals, two-thirds of patients who self-harm are under 35 of whom two-thirds are female.

self harm3
Self Harm

Self-harm is poorly understood in society even among those who in their working lives as school teachers, pastors, social workers, housing officers, police, prison officers and even nurses and doctors encounter people who harm themselves.

People who harm themselves are subject to stigma and hostility.

self harm who is affected
Self Harm - who is affected?
  • All ages and from all social and cultural backgrounds.
  • Some groups are especially vulnerable because of life experiences, personal or social circumstances, physical factors or a combination of these elements.
  • There is a higher incidence of self-harm among:
    • prisoners,
    • asylum seekers,
    • veterans from the armed forces,
    • People bereaved by suicide,
    • some cultural minority groups and people from sexual minorities.
self harm forms methods
Self Harm - Forms/Methods
  • Can take many forms.
  • The most common form of self–injury is:
    • Cutting (with a variety of implements and degrees of severity).
    • Cutting is more repetitive than other forms of self harm, and that it may not be as predominantly a female activity as is commonly thought (Lilley et al, 2008).
  • Other forms:
    • Overdose/Self Poisoning
    • Burning
    • Hanging
    • Strangulation
    • Scratching
    • Banging or hitting body parts, and
    • Mutilation of parts of the body or interfering with wound healing
self harm4
Self Harm
  • Manifestation of emotional distress.
  • Indicates something is wrong rather than a primary disorder.
  • Person’s contributory circumstances are individual. Commonly includes:
    • Difficult personal circumstances
    • Death or other trauma in the family
    • Past trauma (including abuse, neglect or loss)
    • Social or economic deprivation
    • Mental disorder.
self harm5
Self Harm

May often be associated with the misuse of drugs or alcohol.

Rate of self-harm; more in women and girls than men and boys

Completed suicide is more prevalent among men and boys.

self poisoning
Self Poisoning
  • Self-poisoning is the intentional use of:
      • More than prescribed or recommended doses of any drug sometimes labelled ‘indirect self-harm’
      • Includes poisoning by non-ingestible substances
      • Overdoses of recreational drugs and severe alcohol intoxication where this seems to be intended as an act of self-harm.
      • People may switch methods of harming themselves over time.
self harm other
Self Harm - Other

Eating disorders

Physical risk-taking

Sexual risk-taking


One could consider self-neglect as another form of self-harm

When people who repeatedly harm themselves through cutting or taking overdoses are helped to overcome these behaviours, eating disorders or other self-damaging problems may emerge.

self harm anxieties
Self Harm-Anxieties
  • Families and friends may be frustrated and distressed by the actions of the person who self-harms
  • Professionals can have similar responses.
  • When the person needs humane care and understanding they may also encounter hostility, disengagement or bewilderment.
      • More negative attitudes amongst some “non specialist “ services
Motives chosen by young people to explain reason for self-injury ( RoyalCollege Of Psychiatrists Report CR158)
self harm assessment
Self Harm-Assessment
  • Requires a bio-psycho-social approach to assess:
      • Their problems
      • Their needs
      • The risks of further harm to this individual
      • To provides a person-centre management plan.

Three basic steps:

1. Show you care

2. Ask about Self Harm/Suicide intentions or previous attempts.

3. Offer/Get/Encourage to get help

psychological therapies
Psychological Therapies
    • Engaging service users in assessing appropriate interventions & Evidence-based therapies:
      • Problem-solving therapy
      • Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT)
      • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
  • It is important that psychiatrists and other mental health professionals do not restrict their thinking about prevention and intervention to those things that can be done in the clinic, but engage with and in the local community in addressing self-harm and suicide. RCPSYCH CR58

Living Is For Everyone. Fact sheet 6: Resilience, vulnerability, and suicide prevention.

International Association on Suicide Prevention-

Clayton, J. Suicide Prevention: Saving Lives One Community at a Time. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Self-harm, suicide and risk: helping people who self-harm, Final report of a working group College Report CR158 June 2010, Royal College of Psychiatrists London

Dr Leon Rozewicz, Clinical Director, Crisis & Emergency Services, BEH MHT NHS Trust.