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Editor,—We undertook a survey of deliberate self harm and neuropsychiatric presentations to our accident and emergency department over the millennium period (15 December 1999 to14 January 2000). This was to see if the celebrations had any effect on the incidence of DSH and psychiatric illnesses presenting to our department.
The figures for deliberate self harm in 1999/00 were collected prospectively, and then compared with available data for the same period in 1998/99. The results are shown in tables 1 and 2.
The incidence of deliberate self harm for the millennium period was not significantly different from that of the previous year. The highest incidence was in the 25–40 age group.
A previous psychiatric history was established in 36% and 56% of the patients in the years 98/99 and 99/00 respectively, In 98/99, 50% of these patients had previous history of deliberate self harm this compared with 58% in 99/00.
Alcohol played a significant part in many of the patients. One patient died in the 1999/00 study, but none in 1998/99.This patient took a large amount of dothiepin. He was asystolic on arrival and all resuscitative measures failed.
For the period 1999/00, single substance overdoses were commoner than overdoses on cocktails. The commonest drugs being selective serotonine re-uptake inhibitors closely followed by paracetamol preparations. Deliberate self lacerations were few in number.
The celebration of a new millennium did not significantly increase the incidence of deliberate self harm in our practice. This is in line with the experience of many units across the United Kingdom where figures for attendance for all categories of patients did not significantly change for that period of year. Most incidents occurred in a group that is already well represented at other times of the year—that is, known psychiatric patients with previous history of deliberate self harm.
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