Descriptive Epidemiology and Underlying Psychiatric Disorders among Hospitalizations with Self-Directed Violence

Natalya S. Weber, Jared A. Fisher, David N. Cowan, Teodor T. Postolache, Rakel A. Larsen, David W. Niebuhr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Suicide claims over one million lives worldwide each year. In the United States, 1 per 10,000 persons dies from suicide every year, and these rates have remained relatively constant over the last 20 years. There are nearly 25 suicide attempts for each suicide, and previous self-directed violence is a strong predictor of death from suicide. While many studies have focused on suicides, the epidemiology of non-fatal self-directed violence is not well-defined. Objective: We used a nationally representative survey to examine demographics and underlying psychiatric disorders in United States (US) hospitalizations with non-fatal self-directed violence (SDV). Method: International Classification of Disease, 9th Revision (ICD-9) discharge diagnosis data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) were examined from 1997 to 2006 using frequency measures and adjusted logistic regression. Results: The rate of discharges with SDV remained relatively stable over the study time period with 4.5 to 5.7 hospitalizations per 10,000 persons per year. Excess SDV was documented for females, adolescents, whites, and those from the Midwest or West. While females had a higher likelihood of self-poisoning, both genders had comparable proportions of hospitalizations with SDV resulting in injury. Over 86% of the records listing SDV also included psychiatric disorders, with the most frequent being affective (57.8%) and substance abuse (37.1%) disorders. The association between psychiatric disorders and self-injury was strongest for personality disorders for both males (OR = 2.1; 95% CI = 1.3-3.4) and females (OR = 3.8; 95% CI = 2.7-5.3). Conclusion: The NHDS provides new insights into the demographics and psychiatric morbidity of those hospitalized with SDV. Classification of SDV as self-injury or self-poisoning provides an additional parameter useful to epidemiologic studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere59818
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - 26 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


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