CDC - Adolescents most likely to have self-inflicted wounds

Friday, May 24, 2002

ATLANTA -- Adolescents show up at hospital emergency rooms with self-inflicted injuries -- usually suicide attempts -- more often than any other age group, the government said Thursday.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that hospitals in the United States treated 264,108 non-fatal, self-inflicted wounds in 2000. The study did not include fatal wounds.

It found one self-inflicted injury for every 389 people ages 15 to 19 in 2000. People ages 20 to 24 had the next highest frequency, with one injury for every 423 people.

It also found that women are nearly 30 percent more likely than men to arrive at a hospital with a self-inflicted wound.

The study is useful to public health officials because it can point them to the groups who are most likely to try to harm themselves -- even if it's only for attention.

"Some people, when you ask them about their intent, their intent was they really wanted to die," said the CDC's Dr. Alex Crosby. "Others are just looking for a way to deal with their problem."

For all age groups, roughly 60 percent of all self-inflicted wounds are probable suicide attempts, the study found. The CDC estimates about 29,000 people commit suicide every year in the United States.

Poisonings accounts for two-thirds of all non-deadly, self-inflicted wounds in the hospital study, and cuts accounted for about one-fourth. Gunshot wounds accounted for 1 percent.

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