Suicide and mortality following self-harm in culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Victoria, Australia: insights from a data linkage study

Thi Thu Le Pham, Kerry S. O'Brien, Sara Liu, Katharine Gibson, Janneke Berecki-Gisolf

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Background: While cultural backgrounds are well-documented to be relevant to intentional self-harm, little is known about how cultural and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds affect mortality outcomes following self-harm. Aim: This study aimed to compare the risk of all-cause mortality and suicide after intentional hospital admissions for self-harm among people from CALD (vs. non-CALD) backgrounds. Method: Linked hospital and mortality data in Victoria, Australia, was used to assess suicide and all-cause death after hospital admissions for self-harm among patients aged 15+ years. All-cause death was identified by following up on 42,122 self-harm patients (hospitalized between 01 July 2007 and 30 June 2019) until death or 15 February 2021. Suicide death was evaluated in 16,928 self-harm inpatients (01 January 2013 and 31 December 2017) until death or 28 March 2018. Cox regression models were fitted to compare mortality outcomes in self-harm patients from CALD vs. non-CALD backgrounds. Outcomes: During the follow-up periods, 3,716 of 42,122 (8.8%) participants died by any cause (by 15 February 2021), and 304 of 16,928 (1.8%) people died by suicide (by 28 March 2018). Compared to the non-CALD group, CALD intentional self-harm inpatients had a 20% lower risk of all-cause mortality (HR: 0.8, 95% CI: 0.7–0.9) and a 30% lower risk of suicide (HR: 0.7, 95% CI: 049–0.97). Specifically, being from North Africa/Middle East and Asian backgrounds lowered the all-cause mortality risk; however, the suicide risk in Asians was as high as in non-CALD people. Conclusion: Overall, people from CALD backgrounds exhibited lower risks of all-cause mortality and suicide following hospital admission for self-harm compared to the non-CALD group. However, when comparing risks based on regions of birth, significant variations were observed. These findings underscore the importance of implementing culturally tailored background-specific suicide preventive actions. The study focussed on outcomes following hospital admission for self-harm and did not capture outcomes for cases of self-harm that did not result in hospital admission. This limits generalisability, as some CALD people might avoid accessing healthcare after self-harm due to cultural factors. Future research that not limited to hospital data is suggested to build on the results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1256572
Number of pages19
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • CALD
  • country of birth
  • cultural backgrounds
  • mental health
  • mortality outcomes after self-harm
  • multicultural
  • self-harm
  • suicide

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