Objective: The primary objective of this study was to determine the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of all persons who presented to the Accident and Emergency Department of the University Hospital of the West Indies with a history of deliberate harm over a six-month period.
Methods: The dockets of patients presenting with deliberate self-harm were collected and reviewed for the information. A questionnaire was designed to extract the information. Data were analysed using SPSS version 17 and RXC programme.
Results: Of the total number of dockets reviewed (n = 61), 78% of patients were below age 40 years, with a mean age of 28 years. Sixty-four per cent were female, 82% were single, 83% lived with someone, 80% had a secondary school level of education and 72% were unemployed. Overdose of medications was the main method of harm. Seventy-five per cent of patients did not use illicit substances. There was a significant association found between reason for self-harm and psychiatric illness (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Given these preliminary results, it would be useful to conduct a wider, island-wide study to determine the extent of self-harming behaviour in Jamaica so that appropriate interventions can be implemented to reduce this problem.