Why do adolescents self-harm?: An investigation of motives in a community sample

Rasmussen, S., Hawton, K., Philpott-Morgan, S. and O'Connor, R. C. (2016) Why do adolescents self-harm?: An investigation of motives in a community sample. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 37(3), pp. 176-183. (doi:10.1027/0227-5910/a000369) (PMID:26831210)

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Abstract

Background: Given the high rates of self-harm among adolescents, recent research has focused on a better understanding of the motives for the behavior. Aims: The present study had three aims: to investigate (a) which motives are most frequently endorsed by adolescents who report self-harm; (b) whether motives reported at baseline predict repetition of self-harm over a 6-month period; and (c) whether self-harm motives differ between boys and girls. Method: In all, 987 school pupils aged 14–16 years completed a lifestyle and coping questionnaire at two time points 6 months apart that recorded self-harm and the associated motives. Results: The motive "to get relief from a terrible state of mind" was the most commonly endorsed reason for self-harm (in boys and girls). Interpersonal reasons (e.g., "to frighten someone") were least commonly endorsed. Regression analyses showed that adolescents who endorsed wanting to get relief from a terrible state of mind at baseline were significantly more likely to repeat self-harm at follow-up than those adolescents who did not cite this motive. Conclusion: The results highlight the complex nature of self-harm. They have implications for mental health provision in educational settings, especially in relation to encouraging regulation of emotions and help-seeking.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Connor, Professor Rory
Authors: Rasmussen, S., Hawton, K., Philpott-Morgan, S., and O'Connor, R. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention
Publisher:Hogrefe Publishing
ISSN:0227-5910
Published Online:02 February 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Hogrefe Publishing
First Published:First published in Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention 37(3):176-183
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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