By Their Own Young Hand: Deliberate Self-Harm and Suicidal Ideas in Adolescents

By Keith Hawton; Karen Rodham et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6

Schools and Deliberate
Self-harm

Introduction

In the first part of this book, we focused on providing the reader with information concerning what is known about deliberate self-harm in adolescents. This information has been obtained both from our thorough review of the international literature and from our large schools study.

One of the key aims of our schools study was to establish the prevalence of deliberate self-harm and thoughts of self-harm in a large representative sample of adolescents in England. We presented our main findings in Part 1 of this book and have shown that the majority of cases of deliberate self-harm by adolescents do not result in presentation to hospital. Other research in England has shown that some young people who die by suicide have a history of previously undetected deliberate self-harm (Hawton et al., 1999a) and that this is also the case in some young people who subsequently present to hospitals because of a further episode of deliberate self-harm (Hawton et al., 1996).

In our schools study almost 7 per cent of adolescents reported engaging in deliberate self-harm in the past year. Similar surveys from the USA, Australia and other countries in Europe also suggest that this behaviour is common, with prevalence figures ranging from approximately 4 per cent to 10 per cent of adolescents reporting acts of deliberate self-harm in the year before being questioned. Furthermore, a sizeable proportion of adolescents think about but do not carry out acts of self-harm. In our schools study, 15 per cent of the sample had thought about deliberate self-harm in the previous year but had not engaged in the act.We have also shown that a large proportion of the adolescents who reported deliberate self-harm had not

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