Introduction Deliberate self-harm is a term that covers a wide range of behaviours some of which are directly related to suicide and some are not. This is a relatively common behaviour that is little understood. This essay provides an overview of the nature and extent of those most at risk of self-harm, including causes and risk factors. Examining some of the stereotyping that surrounds self -harm, and looking at ways in which self-harm can be prevented.
A useful definition of self-harm is from Professor Keith Hawton (Hawton et al., 2006. p29). An act with a non-fatal outcome in which an individual deliberately did one or more of the following;
• Initiated behaviour (e.g. self-cutting, jumping from a height), which they
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Young prisoners of both sexes appear particularly vulnerable to repeated self-harm it has been suggested that they have a greater difficulty adjusting to prison life than those that are older. Male prisoners outnumber female prisoners; 17:1 studies have found that self-harm is 5.5 times higher in females than their male counterparts.23% of women serving more than a 2 year prison term had self-harmed. In fact, concern in 1997 about high levels of ‘cutting up’ among female prisoners under 18 culminated in a change in the law that teenage girls are no longer sent to adult prisons in the UK. Self-harm is also more common in other residential institutions, like hospitals and care homes, especially where there is lack of social stimulus. Social isolation may be the common factors in all of these situations. (Tantum and Huband (2009).
An enquiry by the (Mental Health Foundation, 2002;2005) exploring the mental health needs of people with learning difficulties confirmed that they experiences the same range of mental health problems as other young people, but found that they were more prone to depression and anxiety disorders which go undiagnosed and untreated. The report also highlighted high incidence of self-harm among this group of people.
Theories of why people self-harm
Research shows that 1 in 15 young people