Deliberate self-poisoning by teenagers

Kraemer, Sebastian (2018) Deliberate self-poisoning by teenagers. Archives of Disease in Childhood . ISSN 0003-9888 (Print) ; 1468-2044 (Online)

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Suicidal self-poisoning is a medical emergency but it is also a psychiatric one. Yet before a psychiatrist can be engaged it is often necessary for a physician or paediatrician to set the scene. Young people who have just taken a massive risk with their lives are in a turmoil of rage, fear, grief and shame. Though some will be keen to talk, others may be harder to reach. ‘The fact that young people who have self-harmed arrive at A&E feeling like ‘rubbish’ may predispose them to perceive staff attitudes and behaviours as hostile and punitive, even when staff do not intend them as such.’ An attentive and careful medical assessment conveys that the problem is taken seriously by the hospital, for which patients will often in time be grateful. Whether or not a mental health practitioner will be seeing the patient soon after admission, I argue that a medical assessment is therapeutic in its own right. You should enquire about the dosage and timing of overdose, and about the motive and the context. This practice both enriches medical clinical skills and also fosters a spirit of collaboration between mental and physical medicine, a benefit to patients who experience it.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adolescent Health, Deliberate Self-Poisoning, Emergency Assessment, Liaison Psychiatry, Suicidal Risk
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents- Psychology
Disabilities & Disorders (mental & physical) > Self Harm
Disabilities & Disorders (mental & physical) > Suicide
Department/People: Honorary Staff

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