Previous research has examined the suicide risk of the Irish Traveller population, but less is known about self-harm and suicidal ideation among this ethnic minority group, which are established risk factors for suicide. The aim of the current study was to compare the presentation-based self-harm and suicide-related ideation of Traveller to non-Traveller patients and describe any ethnic disparities in the aftercare of their presentation.
Data were obtained from the service improvement database of an Irish dedicated national programme for the assessment of those presenting to emergency departments (EDs) due to self-harm and suicide-related ideation. Presentation data from 24 EDs were analysed and Poisson regression was used to assess the age–sex-adjusted relative risk of hospital-presenting self-harm and suicide-related ideation.
24,473 presentations were recorded with 3% of the presentations made by Irish Travellers. Female Traveller patients had 3·04 (95% CI 2·51–3·68) higher risk for suicide-related ideation and 3·85 (95% CI 3·37–4·41) for self-harm, compared to white Irish female patients. Male Traveller patients had 4·46 (95% CI 3·86–5·16) higher risk for suicide-related ideation and 5·43 (95% CI 4·75–6·21) higher rates for self-harm. The highest rate ratios for self-harm were observed among older Traveller patients [male: 9·23 (95% CI 5·93–14·39); female: 6·79 (95% CI 4·37–10·57)]. A higher proportion of Traveller patients requested no next of kin involvement, compared to other ethnicities.
Given that Irish Travellers are at higher risk of self-harm and suicide-related ideation presentations compared to other ethnic groups, EDs should be viewed as an important suicide intervention point.