Authors: Nisha Naicker, Pieter De Jager, Shan Naidoo

Source: PLoS One. 2016 Jan 5;11(1)


Low and middle income countries bear the majority burden of self-harm, yet there is a paucity of evidence detailing risk-factors for self-harm in these populations. This study aims to identify environmental, socio-economic and demographic household-level risk factors for self-harm in five impoverished urban communities in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Methods: Annual serial cross-sectional surveys were undertaken in five impoverished urban communities in Johannesburg for the Health, Environment and Development (HEAD) study. Logistic regression analysis using the HEAD study data (2006-2011) was conducted to identify household-level risk factors associated with self-harm (defined as a self-reported case of a fatal or non-fatal suicide attempt) within the household during the preceding year. Stepwise multivariate logistic regression analysis was employed to identify factors associated with self-harm.
Results: A total of 2 795 household interviews were conducted from 2006 to 2011. There was no significant trend in self-harm over time. Results from the final model showed that self-harm was significantly associated with households exposed to a violent crime during the past year (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) 5.72; 95% CI 1.64-19.97); that have a member suffering from a chronic medical condition (AOR 8.95; 95% 2.39-33.56) and households exposed to indoor smoking (AOR 4.39; CI 95% 1.14-16.47).
Conclusion: This study provides evidence on household risk factors of self-harm in settings of urban poverty and has highlighted the potential for a more cost-effective approach to identifying those at risk of self-harm based on household level factors