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Open Access research that challenges the mind...

The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including those from the School of Psychological Sciences & Health - but also papers by researchers based within the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, and from the Strathclyde Business School.

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Distinguishing adolescents who think about self-harm from those who engage in self-harm

O'Connor, Rory C. and Rasmussen, Susan and Hawton, Keith (2012) Distinguishing adolescents who think about self-harm from those who engage in self-harm. British Journal of Psychiatry, 200 (4). pp. 330-335. ISSN 0007-1250

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Abstract

Adolescent self-harm is a major public health concern, yet little is known about the factors that distinguish adolescents who think about self-harm but do not act on these thoughts from those who act on such thoughts. Within a new theoretical model, the integrated motivational-volitional model, we investigated factors associated with adolescents having thoughts of self-harm (ideators) v. those associated with self-harm enaction (enactors). Observational study of school pupils employing an anonymous self-report survey to compare three groups of adolescents: self-harm enactors (n = 628) v. self-harm ideators (n = 675) v. those without any self-harm history (n = 4219). Enactors differed from ideators on all of the volitional factors. Relative to ideators, enactors were more likely to have a family member/close friend who had self-harmed, more likely to think that their peers engaged in self-harm and they were more impulsive than the ideators. Enactors also reported more life stress than ideators. Conversely, the two self-harm groups did not differ on any of the variables associated with the development of self-harm thoughts. As more adolescents think about self-harm than engage in it, a better understanding of the factors that govern behavioural enaction is crucial in the effective assessment of the risk of self-harm.