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Little is known about the natural history of nonfatal self harm in adolescence and early adulthood. A population-based cohort study has been reported from Victoria, Australia (Lancet 2012;379:236–43). A random sample of 1943 adolescents was recruited from 44 schools between August 1992 and January 2008 and followed up in seven waves between mean ages of 15.9 and 29.0 years. Self harm was reported by 149 (8%) of 1802 respondents throughout adolescence, 10% of girls and 6% of boys. Between the mean ages of 15.9 years and 17.4 years the rate of reported self harm fell from 6.5% to 2.5% among girls and from 3.6% to 0.3% among boys. Overall, 1.4% of adolescent girls and 0.2% of adolescent boys reported self harm with suicidal intent. The three most common types of self harm among girls (in order of frequency) were cuts or burns, poison or overdose, and ‘risk taking’. Among boys the order was cuts or burns, self battery, and ‘risk taking’. Among young women the rate of self harm fell from 2.2% at a mean age of 20.7 years to 0.3% at a mean age of 29.0 years. The corresponding rates for young men were 1.1% and 0.8%. Self harm with suicidal intent was reported by 0.6% of both young women and young men. The most common types of self harm in early adult life were cuts or burns, poison or overdose, and self battery in both sexes. Factors associated with self harm in adolescence included symptoms …
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