It is often seen as a problem among young people, but a new study has shed light on the consequences of self-injury in older people.
Researchers at the University of Manchester and the University of Keele have discovered that people over 65 who are harming themselves are more likely to die of suicide than other age groups.
In the study, the researchers analyzed patient records in Greater Manchester and found that 4,124 patients injured themselves between 2001 and 2014, mostly by taking overdoses of medication.
Worryingly, people over 65 who harmed themselves were 20 times more likely to die unnaturally, and 145 times more likely to die of suicide than those of the same age who were not self-harmed.
The results also showed that only 12% of elderly patients who caused harm to mental health care were referred for aftercare.
What's more, after a self-injured episode, 10% of those aged over 65 were prescribed tricyclic antidepressants – which are toxic when overdosed.
Professor Nav Kapur, one of the newspaper's authors, said: "We sometimes think of self-harm as a problem among younger people and of course it is, but it also has consequences for older adults and the problem in question is the link with a increased risk of suicide.
"Older people can be particularly vulnerable because they are exposed in a unique way to things like death, isolation and physical and psychological disorders.
"They may also be afraid of the consequences of becoming a burden to their family or friends, or not being able to function from day to day."
He added, "We hope that our study will alert clinicians, service planners and policy makers to the need to take preventive measures for this potentially vulnerable group of people." Reference to and management of the state of mental health are likely to be key . "