Objective: The objective was to describe the epidemiology of emergency department (ED) visits for attempted suicide and self-inflicted injury over a 16-year period.
Method: Data were obtained from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey including all visits for attempted suicide and self-inflicted injury (E950-E959) during 1993-2008.
Results: Over the 16-year period, there was an average of 420,000 annual ED visits for attempted suicide and self-inflicted injury [1.50 (95% confidence interval, 1.33-1.67) visits per 1000 US population], and the average annual number for these ED visits more than doubled from 244,000 in 1993-1996 to 538,000 in 2005-2008. During the same time frame, ED visits for these injuries per 1000 US population almost doubled for males (0.84 to 1.62), females (1.04 to 1.96), whites (0.94 to 1.82) and blacks (1.14 to 2.10). Visits were most common among ages 15-19, and the number of visits coded as urgent/emergent decreased from 0.95 in 1993-1996 to 0.70 in 2005-2008.
Conclusions: ED visit volume for attempted suicide and self-inflicted injury has increased over the past two decades in all major demographic groups. Awareness of these longitudinal trends may assist efforts to increase research on suicide prevention. In addition, this information may be used to inform current suicide and self-injury related ED interventions and treatment programs.
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