What is self harm? Self harm describes deliberate acts of hurting yourself the most common form of self-harm is cutting but self-harm also covers a wide range of behaviours including, but not limited to, burning, scratching, banging or hitting body parts, interfering with wound healing, hair-pulling and the ingestion of toxic substances or objects.
Self Harm Myths You must enjoy it or you wouldn’t do it! People who self harm are mentally ill People who self harm are suicidal Only girls self harm People self harm because they are attention seeking
Functions of self harm As a sense of control in ones life. As a coping strategy. As a focus/distraction As an expression of emotional pain, stress and distress. As symptom of underlying pain. As self punishment. As a prevention of causing pain to another. (Harmless 2014)
Suicide v Self harm Suicide is not necessarily the intention of self-harm, the relationship between self-harm and suicide is complex, as self-harming behaviour may be potentially life-threatening. There is also an increased risk of suicide in individuals who self-harm to the extent that self- harm is found in 40–60% of suicides. However, generalising self-harmers to be suicidal is, in the majority of cases, inaccurate.
Some facts.... Young suicide in the UK remains the main cause of death in young people under the age of 35. Nationwide, there were more than 22,000 admissions for self harm in the past year. Up 2,000 from the year before and up 68% in 10 years. However these figures are likely the tip of the iceberg and we don’t know how many young people are self harming. Lucie Russell- (director of campaigns-Young Minds) has blamed the increase on a ‘toxic climate’ facing youngsters. She said ‘ cyber bullying and sexting, bleak employment prospects, and a society obsessed with body image are creating a negative environment for young people’.
Risk Factors for Young People The following groups of young people are at higher risk of self harming behaviours; Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered young people Looked after children Young people in the criminal justice system Those who have experienced abuse, neglect, victimisation, bullying and cruelty Those who have a mental health problem Those who abuse drugs and alcohol Those who have been exposed to self harm in others
Why is it hard to help? Teachers report that although they see the signs of young people self harming they don’t know what to say or how to reach the young person. Parents report being confused and upset by their child self harming. Self harm is traditionally associated with feelings of guilt and shame which often prevents young people from asking for help
When is action needed? Minor Injuries – GP cuts which aren’t bleeding, scratches, hair pulling, minimal head banging, burns bigger than a 50p piece Moderate Injuries – Minor injury units, A+E cuts which won’t stop bleeding, head banging with visible trauma, large burns Severe Injuries – Ambulance and A+E ingestion of toxic substances or objects, large bleeding wounds, head banging with lose of consciousness, ligature attempts
When to refer to CAMHS..... Self harm alone is not suffience for a referral to CAMHS.
Assessing Self Harm Event leading up to Self Harm- Impulsive/ Planned Method- What did they do? Plan- Had they been researching on the internet? Did they leave a note? Intent- to die? To show someone how desperate they were? Lethality- could it have been lethal? What did they think would happen? Circumstances- were they alone? Did they go to sleep after? When did they get help? Current feelings- how are they feeling now?
Some information. MINDed- Excellent website for professionals working with young people with mental health illness. https://www.minded.org.ukhttps://www.minded.org.uk Young Minds – information for professions, parents and young people www.youngminds.org.uk with Parentline 0808 802 5544www.youngminds.org.uk Papyrus- (prevention of young suicide) www.papyrus-uk.orgwww.papyrus-uk.org Hopeline (papyrus phoneline) Confidential Young Suicide Prevention Advice: HOPELineUK 0800 068 41 41 TESS- www.selfinjurysupport.org.uk- for girls and young women affected by self injurywww.selfinjurysupport.org.uk-