• Adolescence;
  • deliberate self harm;
  • self-poisoning;
  • overdose;
  • hospitalisation;
  • paracetamol;
  • self-injurious behaviour

Background:  Deliberate self harm (DSH) by adolescents is a major problem at both hospital and community levels although little is known about the factors associated with hospital presentation.

Method:  Using a community survey a comparison was undertaken of adolescents in 41 schools who reported DSH and presented to hospital with those who reported DSH but did not attend hospital.

Results:  While hospital presentation following DSH was associated with several factors, multivariate analysis indicated that the most important were method of DSH (overdose, methods other than self-cutting and multiple methods) and help-seeking before the act.

Conclusions:  The few differences between adolescents who present to hospital following DSH and those who do not, other than in method of DSH and prior help-seeking, highlight the need for primary preventive initiatives.