Mental health

Hospitalization for persons with self-harm

Question 6: Is hospitalization better than no hospitalization for persons with self-harm?

Management of self harm and suicide

  • Population: persons with acts of self-harm
  • Interventions: hospitalization after suicide or self-harm attempt
  • Comparison: no hospitalization
  • Outcomes:
    • repetition of suicide attempts and acts of self-harm
    • suicide mortality
    • self-report of stigma experiences
    • quality of life.


Hospitalization in non-specialized services of general hospitals with the goal of preventing acts of self-harm is not routinely recommended for persons with self-harm. However, admission to general hospital for management of medical consequences of an act of self-harm may be necessary; in these cases close monitoring of the individual's behaviour will be necessary to prevent subsequent self-harm in the hospital.
Strength of recommendation: STANDARD

In situations where the health worker is concerned about imminent risk of serious self-harm (for example, when the individual is violent, extremely agitated, uncommunicative, etc.), urgent referral to a mental health service should be considered. However, if such a service is not available, family, friends, concerned individuals and other available resources should be mobilized to ensure close monitoring of the individual as long the imminent risk persists.
Strength of recommendation: STANDARD

Evidence profile