Most surveillance systems of hospital-presented suicide attempts and self-harm, whether national or regional, produce annual reports. This is usually a requirement of the funding organization, such as the Ministry of Health.
Annual reports serve a number of key objectives:
• Informing stakeholders about specific trends in suicide attempts and self-harm
• Describing priorities in terms of (emerging) high-risk groups, frequently used and “new” methods of suicide attempts and self-harm.
• Highlighting relevant interventions or actions guided by the surveillance data. In Ireland, for instance, the number of suicide attempts and cases of self-harm, and the rate of repeated acts were taken into account when new specialist self-harm assessment nurses were allocated to hospital emergency departments.
In countries with a national suicide prevention strategy, the annual numbers of acts of hospital-presented self-harm (including suicide attempts), rates of self-harm per 100 000 population, and the rates of repeated self-harm, are likely to be used as progress or outcome indicators of the effectiveness of the implementation of the national suicide prevention strategy. For example, the National Strategy for the Reduction of Suicide in Ireland – Connecting for Life, 2015−2020 – has incorporated the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland as a key source of data for the evaluation of the Connecting for Life Strategy (Reference 1).
To enhance dissemination among stakeholders, and to increase awareness of the topic of suicide attempts and self-harm, it is useful to plan publication dates strategically – e.g. by publishing annual reports on World Suicide Prevention Day, organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) each year on 10 September.
In countries where a surveillance system has been implemented in one or two regions, an annual report which is disseminated among hospitals in regions not yet involved, could facilitate interest to become part of the surveillance system.
The outline of annual reports is fairly consistent across different surveillance systems internationally.