2003 - 2013 Halton Self-Harm and Suicide Report

This report provides the most recent Halton data on self-harm injuries requiring an emergency department (ED) visit and/or hospitalization, or any self-harm injury resulting in death (suicide).

Background and Purpose

Self-harm is a serious public health issue in Halton Region and throughout Canada, particularly among adolescents and young adults, and has received increasing attention in recent years. This report examines self-harm related emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations (2009-2013) and deaths (2007-2011) in Halton and Ontario. Trends over time since 2003 are also presented. Halton self-harm rates were analyzed by age, sex, municipality and neighbourhood income. The purpose of this report is to provide data on self-harm in Halton to inform prevention policies and programs.

Methods

Data is from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care IntelliHEALTH Vital Statistics database. Data for self-harm and suicide often underestimate the number of self-harm injuries occurring in a population. In many cases, it can be difficult to determine if an injury was intentional, therefore some self-harm attempts may be classified as unintentional or undetermined intent. This report only includes self-harm injuries that resulted in an ED visit, hospitalization or death. The data does not include self-harm injuries where residents did not seek medical care or care was sought via their doctors’ offices. Due to the nature of the data available, it was not possible to distinguish between self-harm with and without the attempt to die by suicide.

Key Findings

  • Each year in Halton, self-harm injuries resulted in an average of 397 ED visits, 240 hospitalizations, and 34 deaths (suicide mortality).
  • Halton versus Ontario: The overall rates of ED visits, hospitalizations and deaths due to self-harm were either lower or the same for males and females in Halton compared to Ontario, with the exception of females aged 15-19 who had higher rates of hospitalization in Halton compared to Ontario.
  • Trends over time: There were no significant changes in the overall suicide rates in Halton between 2003 and 2011. In general, rates of ED visits and hospitalizations due to self-harm among males of all ages and females aged 25 and over have either decreased slightly or remained stable. However, from 2009 to 2013, females aged 10 to 17 have experienced an increase in ED visits due to self-harm and females aged 10 to 24 have experienced an increase in hospitalizations due to self-harm.
  • Sex: Halton females were two times more likely to visit the ED or be admitted to the hospital for self-harm injuries compared to males. However, males were approximately two times more likely than females to die by suicide. These differences by sex were consistent with findings across Ontario.
  • Age: Females aged 15-19 had the highest rate of both ED visits and hospitalizations due to self-harm out of all age groups in both Halton and Ontario. Over the age of 19, the rate of ED visits and hospitalizations due to self-harm typically decreased as age increased for both males and females. Halton residents aged 10-17 had the lowest mortality rate due to self-harm, and Halton residents aged 50-74 had the highest mortality rates due to self-harm.
  • Municipality: Males and females in Burlington had the lowest rates and males and females in Halton Hills had the highest rates of self-harm related ED visits and hospitalizations. There were no significant differences by municipality in mortality rates due to self-harm.
  • Income: In Halton, the rate of ED visits and hospitalizations due to self-harm generally decreased as neighbourhood income increased. Due to the small number of deaths due to self-harm, it was not possible to report on deaths by neighbourhood income group.