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Article

A Qualitative Study of Understanding Reasons for Self-Harm in Adolescent Girls

1
Department of Psychology, University of London, London EC1V 0HB, UK
2
School of Health Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
3
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 0SZ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Maria Michail and Anna Lavis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(7), 3361; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073361
Received: 1 March 2021 / Accepted: 22 March 2021 / Published: 24 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Self-Harm and Suicide Prevention among Young People)
Objective: Self-harm is an important public health issue in the UK. Young people who self-harm frequently feel misunderstood, and unable to access help. Improving understanding is key to informing the development and delivery of effective treatments and services. Methods: In this qualitative study, we interviewed nine adolescent girls (13–17 years old) with recurrent self-harm, recruited from NHS specialist child and adolescent mental health services. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: Findings revealed that self-harm is experienced as powerful mental and physical urges, sated only by self-harming, suggesting that self-harm could be considered a compulsive rather than impulsive disorder, representing a new perspective on the behaviour. Five themes emerged: emotion regulation; an addictive urge; self-harm to survive; interpersonal triggers; interpersonal relationships, not mechanical distractors, reduce self-harm. Conclusions: This study provides further evidence that non-suicidal self-injury may be engaged in to reduce suicidal risk. Seeking the company of helpful friends or family members may reduce the urge to self-harm. Repetitive self-harm may be a compulsive behaviour. View Full-Text
Keywords: self-harm; NSSI; adolescent; compulsivity; impulsivity; interpersonal self-harm; NSSI; adolescent; compulsivity; impulsivity; interpersonal
MDPI and ACS Style

Miller, M.; Redley, M.; Wilkinson, P.O. A Qualitative Study of Understanding Reasons for Self-Harm in Adolescent Girls. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 3361. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073361

AMA Style

Miller M, Redley M, Wilkinson PO. A Qualitative Study of Understanding Reasons for Self-Harm in Adolescent Girls. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(7):3361. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073361

Chicago/Turabian Style

Miller, Michelle, Marcus Redley, and Paul O. Wilkinson 2021. "A Qualitative Study of Understanding Reasons for Self-Harm in Adolescent Girls" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 7: 3361. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073361

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