Girls four times more likely to be hospitalized for self-harm

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Girls four times more likely to be hospitalized for self-harm

November 18, 2014—Every year, hundreds of thousands of children and youth in Canada* are injured at home, school and play. In 2013–2014, around 17,500 of them were hospitalized for injuries, and approximately 3,000 of these hospitalizations were for an intentional injury—self-inflicted or caused by others.

New data released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reveals that almost 2,500 hospitalizations among youth (age 10 to 17) were for self-harm. Girls made up more than 80% of these hospitalizations—4 times the share for boys.

The data also shows that an increasing number of girls were hospitalized for harming themselves with a sharp object, such as by “cutting” (making small cuts to the body, usually on the arms or legs). In the last 5 years, the rate has gone up 90%.

Still, for girls and boys, the majority of self-harm hospitalizations were a result of intentional poisoning. Prescription medications were the most commonly used substance; others included narcotics, illegal drugs, alcohol and chemical solvents.

Boys more likely to be assaulted than girls

With the exception of sexual assault, boys outnumbered girls as victims of intentional assault, making up almost two-thirds of the more than 500 hospitalizations among children and youth (younger than 18) in
2013–2014. Most of them were older boys (age 14 to 17). The hospitalization rate for boys has decreased in the last 5 years, while the rate for girls has increased.

In 2013–2014, bodily force and other maltreatment such as child abuse accounted for more than 70% of hospitalizations for assault. While youth age 14 to 17 made up the highest proportion of victims of most types of assault, children younger than 5 accounted for 38% of child abuse victims. 

*Quebec data was excluded from this analysis.


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