Brief report: Self-cutting and risk of subsequent suicide

Robert J Carroll*, Kyla H Thomas, Katharine J Bramley, S Williams, Lucy J Griffin, John P Potokar, David Gunnell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
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Some studies suggest that people who self-cut have a higher risk of suicide than those who self-poison. Self-cutting ranges from superficial wrist cutting to severe self-injury involving areas such as the chest, abdomen and neck which can be life threatening. This study aimed to investigate whether the site of self-cutting was associated with risk of subsequent suicide.


We followed-up 3928 people who presented to hospital following self-harm between September 2010 and December 2013 in a prospective cohort study based on the Bristol Self-harm Surveillance Register. Demographic information from these presentations was linked with coroner’s data to identify subsequent suicides.


People who presented with self-cutting to areas other than the arm/wrist were at increased risk of suicide compared to those who self-poisoned (HR 4.31, 95% CI 1.27 to 14.63, p=0.029) and this increased risk remained after controlling for age, sex, history of previous self-harm and psychiatric diagnosis (HR 4.46, 95% CI 1.50 to 13.25, p<0.001). We observed no such increased risk in people presenting with cutting to the arm/wrist.


These data represent the experience of one city in the UK and may not be generalisable outside of this context. Furthermore, as suicide is a rare outcome the precision of our estimates is limited.


Site of self-injury may be an important risk factor for subsequent suicide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-10
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date10 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Structured keywords

  • SASH


  • Self harm
  • Attempted suicide
  • Psychiatric epidemiology;
  • Risk factors
  • Methods of Self harm
  • Suicide


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