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EClinicalMedicine ; 41: 101175, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1487700


BACKGROUND: Surveillance of temporal trends in clinically treated self-harm is an important component of suicide prevention in the dynamic context of COVID-19. There is little evidence beyond the initial months following the onset of the pandemic, despite national and regional restrictions persisting to mid-2021. METHODS: Descriptive time series analysis utilizing de-identified, primary care health records of 2.8 million patients from the Greater Manchester Care Record. Frequencies of self-harm episodes between 1st January 2019 and 31st May 2021 were examined, including stratification by sex, age group, ethnicity, and index of multiple deprivation quintile. FINDINGS: There were 33,444 episodes of self-harm by 13,148 individuals recorded during the study period. Frequency ratios of incident and all episodes of self-harm were 0.59 (95% CI 0.51 to 0.69) and 0.69 (CI 0.63 to 0.75) respectively in April 2020 compared to February 2020. Between August 2020 and May 2021 frequency ratios were 0.92 (CI 0.88 to 0.96) for incident episodes and 0.86 (CI 0.84 to 0.88) for all episodes compared to the same months in 2019. Reductions were largest among men and people living in the most deprived neighbourhoods, while an increase in all-episode self-harm was observed for adolescents aged 10-17. INTERPRETATION: Reductions in primary care-recorded self-harm persisted to May 2021, though they were less marked than in April 2020 during the first national lockdown. The observed reductions could represent longer term reluctance to seek help from health services. Our findings have implications for the ability for services to offer recommended care for patients who have harmed themselves.