[Self-harming behavior by patients admitted to forensic psychiatry]

Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2021;63(6):419-424.
[Article in Dutch]


Background: Incidents of self-harm by forensic psychiatric patients usually have a large impact on all those involved and self-harming behavior is an important predictor for violence towards others during treatment.

Aim: To describe incidents of self-harm during the treatment of patients admitted to forensic psychiatry.

Method: All incidents of self-harm during treatment in a forensic psychiatric center that were registered between 2008 and 2019 were analyzed and coded with respect to severity with the MOAS+.

Results: Between 2008 and 2019 299 incidents of self-harm were registered committed by 106 patients. Most of these incidents (87,6%) were classified as non-suicidal. Methods most often used were cutting themselves with glass, broken plates or mugs, a razor or knife and swallowing dangerous objects or liquids. There were ten cases of suicide, almost all by suffocation with a rope or belt. The majority of the incidents were coded as severe or extreme with the MOAS+. Female patients were overrepresented and they caused on average three times more incidents than male patients.

Conclusion: Incidents of self-harm happen regularly in forensic psychiatry and are usually severe. More research is needed into the impact on all those involved, motivations and triggers for self-harming behavior and effective treatment of it.

MeSH terms

  • Dangerous Behavior
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self-Injurious Behavior* / epidemiology
  • Suicide*
  • Violence