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Self-harm in adolescents : self-report survey in schools in Scotland

O'Connor, R.C. and Rasmussen, Susan and Miles, Jeremy and Hawton, Keith (2009) Self-harm in adolescents : self-report survey in schools in Scotland. British Journal of Psychiatry, 194 (1). pp. 68-72. ISSN 0007-1250

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The suicide rate in Scotland is twice as high as that in England. However, the prevalence of self-harm is unknown. Aims To determine the prevalence of self-harm in adolescents in Scotland and the factors associated with it. A total of 2008 pupils aged 15-16 years completed an anonymous lifestyle and coping survey. information was obtained on demographic characteristics, lifestyle, life events and problems, social influences, psychological variables and self-harm. Self-harm was reported by 13.8% of the respondents. The majority (71%) of those who had self-harmed had done so in the past 12 months and girls were approximately 3.4 times more likely to report self-harm than boys. In multivariate analyses, smoking, bullying, worries about sexual orientation, self-harm by family and anxiety were associated with self-harm in both genders. in addition, drug use, physical abuse, serious boy/girlfriend problems, self-harm by friends and low levels of optimism were also associated with self-harm in girls. Despite markedly different national suicide rates, the prevalence of self-harm in Scotland is similar to that in England with girls at least three times more likely to report self-harm than boys. The findings suggest a role for emotional literacy programmes in schools and highlight the importance of promoting positive mental health among adolescents.