Mental Health Research

‘An investigation of suicide and increasing episodes of non-fatal intentional self-harm among young women in Victoria. A case of method-escalation?’

Monash University, VIC
Awarded 2019

“Suicide and non-fatal self-harm among young women are significant public health concerns and there is recent evidence that suicide and non-fatal hospital-treated intentional self-harm among young women is increasing in Australia. “

Researcher Profile

Angela Clapperton is a Research Fellow at the Monash University Accident Research Centre. Angela has extensive experience using large administrative data collections (such as hospital admissions, emergency department presentations and mortality data) to investigate the burden of intentional and unintentional injury in Victoria.

Her primary research interests include suicide and non-fatal intentional self-harm and injury surveillance methods. Angela is in the final stages of her PhD investigating the presence and nature of mental illness among persons who died by suicide in Victoria and investigating pathways to suicide in the same population.

Project Summary

There is evidence that suicide among young Australian women is increasing. In addition, thousands of young women are treated in hospitals each year for non-fatal intentional self-harm, and recent research suggests the frequency and rate of these instances is also increasing. A potential explanation for the observed increase in suicide among young women is that they are using increasingly lethal methods.

The project aims to determine the extent to which hospital-treated incidents of intentional self-harm are precursors to death by suicide in young women. In particular the aim is to determine whether there is evidence that young women are engaging in repeat episodes of intentional self-harm, and whether these repeat episodes are involving increasingly lethal methods.

The project will use linked data to answers the aims. Datasets to be linked will be the Victorian Emergency Minimum Dataset (VEMD), the Victorian Admitted Episodes Dataset (VAED) and the Victorian Suicide Register (VSR). Linking these three datasets will allow an examination of trajectories of suicidal behaviour among young women.

Co-Investigators: Professor Jane Pirkis, Dr Jeremy Dwyer & A/Professor Lyndal Bugeja