Reasons for adolescent deliberate self-harm: a cry of pain and/or a cry for help?
- 1.8k Downloads
The present study examines reasons for adolescent deliberate self-harm. A cross-sectional survey using an anonymous self-report questionnaire was carried out in seven countries (Australia, Belgium, England, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway). Data on 30,477 school pupils between the ages of 14–17 were analysed. Past year and lifetime deliberate self-harm were assessed, along with the self-reported reasons for deliberate self-harm. The results showed that ‘wanted to get relief from a terrible state of mind’ and ‘wanted to die’ were most commonly reported. Principal component analysis indicated two underlying dimensions in the reasons for deliberate self-harm, i.e. a cry of pain motive and/or a cry for help motive. The majority of self-harmers reported at least one cry of pain motive (‘to die’, ‘to punish myself’, and ‘to get relief from a terrible state of mind’) and an additional cry for help motive (‘to show how desperate I was feeling’, to frighten someone’, ‘to get my own back on someone’, ‘to find out whether someone really loved me’, and ‘to get some attention’). Females reported more reasons than males. Only females showed an age difference, with girls aged 16–17 more frequently reporting a cry for help motive. There was considerable consistency in choice of motives across countries and genders. Systematic assessment of the reasons for deliberate self-harm can help clinicians to better understand the meaning of self harming behaviour, select appropriate treatment, suggest alternative coping strategies, and hopefully prevent future suicidal behaviour.
Keywordsdeliberate self-harm adolescence reasons cry of pain cry for help
- 4.Choquet M, Ledoux, S (1994) Adolescents—Enquête Nationale. Analyses et Perspectives. Paris: Inserm, 346 pGoogle Scholar
- 6.Hawton K, Rodham K (2006) By their own young hand–deliberate self-harm and suicidal ideas in adolescents. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 10.Hjelmeland H, Hawton K, Nordvik H, Bille-Brahe U, De Leo D, Fekete S, Grad O, Haring C, Kerkhof JF, Lonnqvist J, Michel K, Renberg ES, Schmidtke A, van Heeringen K, Wasserman D (2002) Why people engage in parasuicide: a cross-cultural study of intentions. Suicide Life Threat Behav 32:380–393PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 15.Kerkhof A, Bernasco W, Bille-Brahe U, Platt S, Schmidtke A (1993) European parasuicide study interview schedule, initial interview. In: Bille-Brahe U (ed) WHO/EURO multicentre study on parasuicide. WHO Regional Office for Europe, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
- 17.Madge N, Hewitt A, Hawton K, De Wilde EJ, Corcoran P, Fekete S, Van Heeringen K, De Leo D, Ystgaard M (2008) Deliberate self-harm within an international community sample of young people: comparative findings from the child and adolescent self-harm in Europe (CASE) study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 49:667–677PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 24.Varadaraj R, Mendonca J, Rauchenberg P (1986) Motives and intent: a comparison of views of overdose patients and their key relatives/friends. Canad J Psychiatry 31:621–624Google Scholar
- 25.Williams J (2001) Suicide and attempted suicide. Understanding the cry of pain, PenguinGoogle Scholar
- 26.Ystgaard M, Arensman E, Hawton K, Madge N, Van Heeringen K, De Wilde EJ, De Leo D, Fekete S(2008) Deliberate self harm in adolescents: comparison between those who attend health services following self-harm and those who do not. Accepted by the J AdolescGoogle Scholar