As adolescent self-harm is a growing public health concern, more research is needed to identify potential risk factors. Studies have highlighted that exposure to the self-harm of others may be a risk factor associated with engagement in self-harm. However, research investigating young people’s experiences of the self-harm of others has been limited. This qualitative study aimed to explore young people’s experiences of the self-harm of others and interviewed a total of eight young people (five females and three males; aged between 13 and 18 years) resident at one of two adolescent mental health inpatient units in the North of England. The interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and four themes were identified: ‘Pre-admission exposure to self-harm’, ‘Exposure on the inside: An unpleasant environment’, ‘Helper vs helped’ and ‘Separation from the attention seekers: competing for authenticity’. Prevention efforts to reduce the social transmission and stigma surrounding self-harm among young people are discussed.

Claire Smith-Gowling, Susan F Knowles, Suzanne Hodge

Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol 23, Issue 4, 2018

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Understanding experiences of the self-harm of others: A qualitative exploration of the views of young people with complex mental health needs [2018]