Characteristics and patterns of individuals who have self-harmed: a retrospective descriptive study from Karachi, Pakistan

Ambreen Tharani, Salima Farooq, Maryam Pyar Ali Lakhdir, Uroosa Talib, Murad Moosa Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Self-Harm (SH) is a major global public health problem under-researched in Pakistan due to religious and legal implications. This study aims to identify the characteristics and patterns among patients with SH and factors associated with the intent to die. Method: This retrospective descriptive study where SH cases presented to private tertiary care teaching hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, from January 2013 to December 2017 were extracted from HIMS records. Details related to demography, history, associated factors, access to methods used, and intent to die were collected on a structured proforma and analysed using STATA version 14. Results: A total of 350 cases were analysed. More than half of the reported cases were in the age group 20–39 years. Though only one-fourth of the SH cases had a past psychiatric history, it was found to be significantly (P-value < 0.05) associated with intent to die. Notably, 81% of the cases do not have a history of SH. Drug overdose (61.6%) and insecticides (36.6%) were the two most common methods used. Depression was identified in nearly half of the cases. The most common reason for attempting SH was inter-personal relationship issues (54.3%). Conclusion: This paper provides recent data on the characteristics and patterns associated with the intent to die of individuals who have self-harmed. In most cases of SH, past psychiatric history was not evident. Current psychiatric diagnosis and young adults were favoured in this study. The data from this study has limited representation for all demographic representation of SH cases from Pakistan as being from a single private hospital. There is a need for further research on SH in Pakistan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number367
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Characteristics
  • Intent to die
  • Psychiatric illness
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide


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