Starting The Conversation About Self-Harm
Date: 13th February 2017
Author: Dr Cat Hughes
Most people have a tough time talking about self-harm. Whether we’re worried about a loved one or struggling ourselves, it can be hard to find the right words when we need them. Knowing what to say and how to look for help can be very difficult for people who are engaging in self-harm. Adolescents rarely contact their GP for help, even if they think that they might have a mental health problem. It’s estimated that as few as 10-18% of adolescents who self-harm will look for help. Indeed, it’s thought that the official statistics relating to self-harm in Ireland only represent the tip of the iceberg, because so many young people are reluctant to seek help. Estimates suggest that self-harm rates are actually six times higher than those officially recorded.
Knowing what to say and when to say it can be particularly hard for parents. Some may just suspect that their child is self-harming, but they don’t know how to approach the subject. Others may know that their child is self-harming, but they’re worried about putting pressure on their child and making things worse.
The Self-Harm Awareness Conference at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on March 1st has been organised to help parents and people working with adolescents to find the right words so that they can talk about self-harm. The conference is being organised by Pieta House and St Patrick's Mental Health Services, and we are bringing together a line-up of experts in the area. It is designed to offer attendees practical, real-world information that will help them to better understand issues related to self-harm. If you have any concerns about self-harm and your children, come along to the conference, speak to the experts and get your own conversation started:
Biddle, L., Gunnell, D., Sharp, D., et al (2004) Factors influencing help seeking in mentally distressed adults: a cross-sectional survey. British Journal of General Practice, 54, 248– 253.
DeLeo D, Heller T S. Who are the kids who self-harm? An Australian self-report school survey (2004) Medical Journal of Australia, 181: 140–144.
Ystgaard M, Arensman E, Hawton K, Madge N, van Heeringen K, Hewitt A, de Wilde EJ, De Leo D, Fekete S (2009) Deliberate self-harm in adolescents: comparison between those who receive help following self-harm and those who do not. Journal of Adolescence, 32:875- 891
Perry IJ, Corcoran P, Fitzgerald AP, et al. (2012) The incidence and repetition of hospitaltreated deliberate self harm: Findings from the world’s first national registry. PLoS One 7. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0031663.