prevalence charges trigger for concern


Suicide and self-harm are main public well being considerations, with the median age of onset of self-harm estimated to be 13 years outdated (Gardner et al., 2019). Self-harm tends to be larger in women, and analysis in neighborhood samples report prevalence charges in adolescents between 12.1% and 18.8% (Hawton et al., 2020).

At the very least half of all younger individuals who die by suicide have beforehand self-harmed, making self-harm a serious threat issue for suicidal ideas and accomplished suicide (Hawton et al., 2020). Furthermore, with the rise of younger individuals accessing on-line platforms, there’s a larger threat of being uncovered to conditions that negatively affect their psychological well being, reminiscent of unmoderated communities sharing materials to advertise self-harm (learn extra in Louise and Jo’s latest Psychological Elf weblog). Efficient help for younger individuals who expertise self-harm or suicidal ideation is subsequently important.

Nonetheless, there may be restricted analysis on the prevalence of suicidal ideation and self-harm in kids aged 12 years and underneath, principally as a result of it’s presumed to be low. However what if it isn’t? And what are the results of this? Geoffroy and colleagues (2022) sought to handle this by means of conducting a scientific assessment and meta-analysis.

This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to address suicidal ideation and self-harm in children aged 12 years and younger.

That is the primary systematic assessment and meta-analysis to handle suicidal ideation and self-harm in kids aged 12 years and youthful.


The researchers carried out a scientific literature search throughout 3 main databases. Research have been included if:

  • Youngsters have been aged 12 years or underneath, in a neighborhood pattern;
  • Prevalence of suicidal ideation and self-harm have been reported;
  • The research was revealed in a peer-reviewed journal, in French or English;
  • Reported unique knowledge.

Research reporting prevalence from samples combining kids and adolescents have been solely included if the imply age of the pattern was lower than 12 years.

The researchers recognized 3,710 papers, which have been initially screened by 4 authors primarily based on titles and abstracts, after which screened at full textual content in pairs. Knowledge was extracted right into a type created for the research, with disagreements resolved by means of session with a fifth creator.

Outcomes included suicidal ideation (together with suicide planning) and self-harm behaviours (self-harm, non-suicidal self-injury [NSSI], and suicide makes an attempt). A random results mannequin was used for the meta-analysis to calculate the prevalence of suicidal ideation and self-harm behaviours throughout the research.

The researchers used the Joanna Briggs Institute Vital Appraisal instrument to judge threat of bias within the included research. Most papers scored between 4-6 out of a attainable 9, indicating reasonable threat of bias.

The authors assessed threat of publication bias by means of visually inspecting funnel plots, earlier than utilizing the Egger check and the Duval and Tweedie trim-and-fill technique. Meta-regression and subgroup analyses have been used to discover the heterogeneity inside suicidal ideation.


The researchers recognized 28 papers of 30 research on the prevalence of suicidal ideation and self-harm in samples of youngsters aged 12 years and youthful. Research occurred in North America, Asia, and Europe, with none being carried out within the UK or low-income international locations.

The 30 research included a complete of 98,044 kids aged 6-12 years, with pattern sizes starting from 30 to 40,359. The research used a combination of questionnaires and interviews to gather knowledge, which concerned both the kid, guardian, or each. In relation to outcomes, 28 (93%) research reported suicidal ideation, 6 (20%) reported suicide makes an attempt, 4 (13%) reported self-harm, and a couple of (7%) reported NSSI.

Outcomes from the meta-analysis discovered prevalence estimates of:

  • 7.5% (95% CI 5.9 to 9.6) for suicidal ideation, primarily based on 28 research.
  • 2.2% (95% CI 2.0 to 2.5) for suicide planning, primarily based on 3 research.
  • 2.0% (95% CI 0.8 to five.0) for self-harm behaviours, primarily based on 11 research.
  • 1.3% (95% CI 1.0 to 1.9) for suicide makes an attempt, primarily based on 6 research.
  • 1.4% (95% CI 0.4 to 4.7) for self-harm, primarily based on 4 research.
  • 21.9% (95% CI 6.2 to 54.5) for non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), primarily based on 2 research (with excessive variation).

The prevalence estimate of suicidal ideation was barely larger for boys (7.9%) than women (6.4%). In distinction, self-harm behaviour prevalence estimates have been comparable in boys (3%) and women (3.5%).

The prevalence of suicidal ideation was larger when kids have been interviewed with out a guardian (10.9%), and with a guardian (10.4%), in comparison with guardian report alone (4.7%).

The research reported excessive heterogeneity throughout prevalence estimates, which was not defined by research traits.

This review estimated a pooled prevalence of 7·5% (95% CI 5·9 to 9·6) for suicidal ideation in children younger than 12 years.

This assessment means that about 1 in 13 kids youthful than 12 years are desirous about the opportunity of ending their very own life.


That is the primary systematic assessment and meta-analysis to analyze the prevalence of self-harm behaviours and suicidal ideation in neighborhood samples of youngsters aged 12 years and youthful.

The authors highlighted that the prevalence of suicidal ideation and self-harm behaviours on this inhabitants have been larger than anticipated. There’s a basic perception that kids not often take into consideration suicide as a result of they don’t perceive or fathom their very own demise; nevertheless, this research exhibits that kids aged 6-12 years can expertise suicidal ideation at notable ranges. These estimations have been comparable in girls and boys and the response fee was larger when the youngsters have been requested instantly about their suicidal ideas, quite than the mother and father.

This review is the first of its kind on the topic, with findings demonstrating that self-harm behaviours and suicidal ideation are present earlier in the life course and need to be addressed.

This assessment is the primary of its form on the subject, with findings demonstrating that self-harm behaviours and suicidal ideation are current earlier within the life course and must be addressed.

Strengths and limitations


  • The systematic assessment and meta-analysis methodology used on this assessment had clear search standards geared toward suicidal ideation and self-harm.
  • Researchers evaluated threat of bias utilizing a validated instrument, enhancing objectivity, while facilitating correct interpretation of research findings.
  • Researchers gave clear prevalence estimates throughout the included research.
  • The included research comprised a massive pattern measurement and lined a number of international locations.


  • Final result measures diversified significantly throughout the research and might not have been operationalised in sufficient depth to sufficiently discover self-harm and suicidal ideation. Many research solely used a single merchandise to find out suicidal ideation, making it a problem to match and synthesise the outcomes throughout research.
  • Total prevalence estimates have been carried out inside the final 12 months for many research; nevertheless, the meta-analysis nonetheless included some research that had shorter time frames reminiscent of 3 months, which impedes the precision of those estimates.
  • Combining the estimated prevalence throughout the age span (ages 6-12 years) might not have been probably the most acceptable resolution given developmental variations. Nonetheless, this may increasingly have been obligatory on condition that analysis on suicidal ideation and self-harm on this age vary is scarce.
  • The general high quality evaluation of the included research confirmed a number of research have been of low high quality and used comfort sampling; these research weren’t designed to estimate the prevalence of self-harm and suicidal ideation.
  • The dearth of research from the UK could also be resulting from using American English search phrases. Age teams have been referred to by “grades” quite than “years” and there was no point out of “key levels” or different phrases related to a UK context.
  • The assessment didn’t discover participant traits past age and gender. Particular person stage and space stage traits might present perception into protecting and threat components inside this inhabitants, which is essential to prevention.
Although the methodology of the review was rigorous, concerns regarding the search criteria, heterogeneity between studies, and the inclusion of studies not designed for prevalence estimates should be considered when interpreting results.

Though the methodology of the assessment was rigorous, considerations relating to the search standards, heterogeneity between research, and the inclusion of research not designed for prevalence estimates ought to be thought-about when deciphering outcomes.

Implications for observe

This paper acts as a springboard to lastly begin exploring youthful kids’s experiences of self-harm and suicidal ideation. Prevalence charges in kids enhance as they undergo puberty, peaking in adolescence, that means that early intervention methods amongst main school-aged kids might subsequently assist to scale back the probability of self-harm occurring in youngsters or later in maturity. Nonetheless, to get so far, much more work must be accomplished.

Though Geoffroy and colleagues didn’t contact on this, it will be significant for researchers to conduct qualitative work on self-harm and suicidal ideation in kids to know their views and experiences. Most younger individuals who self-harm is not going to entry psychological well being providers, making colleges a significant goal for intervention and prevention. Research on school-based psychological well being interventions are growing; nevertheless, research on stopping suicide and self-harm on this inhabitants are restricted, with gatekeepers receiving poor high quality coaching (as highlighted in a earlier weblog by Rasanat).

Additional, though colleges, lecturers, and fogeys usually perceive the significance of early identification and intervention for youngsters prone to self-harm or suicidal ideation, they are often hesitant to explicitly focus on this with the kid resulting from fears of contagion and considerations of elevating consciousness versus selling self-harm. And maybe these considerations are legitimate – a latest weblog by Lottie Shipp reporting on qualitative findings from Sweden discovered that younger individuals felt at larger threat of experiencing poor psychological well being when surrounded by pals who have been additionally struggling. Nonetheless, proof additionally exhibits that school-based interventions addressing self-harm don’t present a rise in self-harm or hostile outcomes in college students (Nawaz et al., 2023). Clearly, additional analysis is required to enhance our understanding.

Total, the present assessment demonstrates that self-harm and suicidal ideation are current in youthful populations, and it’s time to begin discussing these points with tailored help for the kid and people chargeable for their care. Failure to handle this might have a life-long affect on susceptible kids, who might proceed to endure socially and economically with out help (as blogged about final yr by India).

Future studies should investigate the risk and protective factors associated with self-harm and suicidal ideation in younger populations, with a focus on early identification, prevention, and intervention.

Future research ought to examine the danger and protecting components related to self-harm and suicidal ideation in youthful populations, with a give attention to early identification, prevention, and intervention.

Assertion of pursuits

RFN receives funding from Fullscope, a consortium of organisations supporting the psychological well being and wellbeing of youngsters and younger individuals in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. RFN can also be funded by the Mates of Peterhouse scholarship, Peterhouse, College of Cambridge.


Major paper

Geoffroy, M. C., Bouchard, S., Per, M., Khoury, B., Chartrand, E., Renaud, J., … & Orri, M. (2022). Prevalence of suicidal ideation and self-harm behaviours in kids aged 12 years and youthful: a scientific assessment and meta-analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry, 9(9), 703-714.

Different references

Bellairs-Walsh, I. (2022). New analysis means that youth suicide makes an attempt can lead to later-life financial and social disadvantages. The Psychological Elf.

Evans, R., Parker, R., Russell, A.E., Mathews, F., Ford, T., Hewitt, G., . . . & Janssens, A. (2019). Adolescent self-harm prevention and intervention in secondary colleges: A survey of employees in England and Wales. Baby and Adolescent Psychological Well being, 24, 230–238.

Gardner, W., Pajer, Ok., Cloutier, P., Zemek, R., Currie, L., Hatcher, S., … & Lima, I. (2019). Altering charges of self-harm and psychological problems by intercourse in youths presenting to Ontario emergency departments: repeated cross-sectional research. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 64(11), 789-797.

Hawton, Ok., Bale, L., Model, F., Townsend, E., Ness, J., Waters, Ok., . . . & Geulayov, G. (2020). Mortality in kids and adolescents following presentation to hospital after non-fatal self-harm within the multicentre research of self-harm: A potential observational cohort research. The Lancet Baby and Adolescent Well being, 4, 111–120.

La Sala, L., & Robinson, J. (2023). On-line experiences: a threat issue for suicide? The Psychological Elf.

Nawaz, R. F., Anderson, J. Ok., Colville, L., Fraser‐Andrews, C., & Ford, T. J. (2023). Interventions to forestall or handle self‐hurt amongst college students in academic settings–a scientific assessment. Baby and Adolescent Psychological Well being.

Nawaz, R. F., & Cross, L. (2021). College-based psychological well being interventions: lowering melancholy, nervousness and aggressive behaviour. The Psychological Elf.

NICE (2022). Self-harm: evaluation, administration and stopping recurrence. NICE guideline [NG225].

Shipp, L. (2023). Are psychological well being issues the “new regular” for younger individuals? New qualitative research from Sweden explores their ideas. The Psychological Elf.

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