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Dr Shelagh Wright - Systemic and Family Psychotherapist and Family Mediator

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Self-harm Is When Someone Deliberately Hurts Or Injures Him Or Herself.

This can take a number of forms including:

Some young people self-harm on a regular basis while others do it just once or a few times. For some people it is part of coping with a specific problem and they stop once the problem is resolved. Other people self-harm for years whenever certain kinds of pressures or feelings arise.

A few people who self-harm may go on to commit suicide - generally this is not what they intend to do. In fact, self-harm can be seen as the 'opposite' of suicide as it is often a way of coping with life rather than of giving up on it.

Self-harm is often also referred to by other names such as deliberate self-harm, attempted suicide, para-suicide, self-mutilation and self-injury. Talking or reading about self-harm can sometimes become confusing because researchers and health professionals often use these terms to mean different things. A research article or report will usually define exactly how it is using any specialised terms.

Young People Who Self-harm Have Often Had Very Difficult Or Painful Experiences Or Relationships. These May Include:

Other young people may start to self-harm as a way of dealing with the problems and pressures of everyday life. Pressure can come from family, school and peer groups to conform or to perform well (for example in getting good exam results). Young people can be made to feel angry, frustrated or bad about themselves if they cannot live up to other people's expectations.

Young people who self-harm may have low self-esteem. For some this is linked to poor body image, eating disorders, or drug misuse. Understanding why young people self-harm involves knowing as much as possible about their lives and lifestyles.

Peer pressures may occasionally be the most important reason for self-harm. Young people may find themselves among friends or other groups who self-harm and may be encouraged or pressurised to do the same.

From the NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence)


The NICE clinical guideline on self-harm covers:

The guideline does not attempt to explain self-harm or describe the treatment in detail.