Self-harm increasing among young women

The number of people being treated following a suicide attempt or other self-destructive behaviour has increased. The rise is especially marked among girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24, according to a report from the Board of Health and Welfare.

Nine out of ten people being treated for self-destructive behaviour had injured themselves by some form of poisoning, usually with medicines.

The report was a wide-ranging analysis of what led to people being hospitalised in Sweden in 2003. Over 100,000 people were treated during the year for poisoning and injuries.

Accidents involving a fall were the most common reason for a trip to hospital, accounting for 49% of all injuries. Falling was most common in all age groups, although the elderly were worst affected.

The number of people being treated in hospital following road accidents has also increased. Mostly these are car accidents, but cycle and motorcycle accidents are also common causes of hospitalisation. Young men, aged 15-24, are most frequently involved in such accidents.

More people are being treated in hospital as a result of complications following medical or surgical treatment. Again, old people are the worst affected.

However, Anders Karlsson, a researcher at the epidemiological centre at the Board of Health and Welfare, said that rather than being a cause for concern, this was a positive development:

“We believe that the increase is due to systematic quality control at a district level, which has in turn led to improved reporting to our patient register,” he said.

Broken bones are the most common injury, accounting for 45% of patient injuries. The number of cases of concussion, especially among children and young people, has fallen in hospitals. This is explained by more visits to ‘open care’ centres instead of hospital emergency wards, said the board.

Louis Roper