Self Harm and Suicide

Definitions from the Mental Health Foundation (2003) are:

– Deliberate self-harm is self-harm without suicidal intent, resulting in non-fatal injury;

– Attempted suicide is self-harm with intent to take life, resulting in non-fatal injury;

– Suicide is self-harm, resulting in death.

Deliberate self-harm is a common precursor to suicide and children and young people who deliberately self-harm may kill themselves by accident.  Self-harm can be described as wide range of behaviours that someone does to themselves in a deliberate and usually hidden way. In the vast majority of cases self-harm remains a secretive behaviour that can go on for a long time without being discovered. Many children and young people may struggle to express their feelings and will need a supportive response to assist them to explore their feelings and behaviour and the possible outcomes for them.  The following risk factors – particularly in combination – may make a young person vulnerable to self-harm.

Individual Factors:

– Depression / anxiety / low mood;

– Poor communication skills;

– Low self-esteem;

– Poor problem-solving skills;

– Hopelessness;

– Impulsivity;

– Drug or alcohol misuse.

Family Factors:

– Unreasonable expectations;

– Neglect or abuse (physical, sexual or emotional);

– Child being Looked After;

– Poor parental relationships and arguments;

– Depression, deliberate self-harm or suicide in the family.

Social Factors:

– Difficulty in making relationships / loneliness;

– Persistent bullying or peer rejection;

– Easy availability of drugs, medication or other methods of self-harm;

– Living in the borough’s more deprived areas.