Picture of UK Houses of Parliament

Leading national thinking on politics, government & public policy through Open Access research

Strathprints makes available scholarly Open Access content by researchers in the School of Government & Public Policy, based within the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Research here is 1st in Scotland for research intensity and spans a wide range of domains. The Department of Politics demonstrates expertise in understanding parties, elections and public opinion, with additional emphases on political economy, institutions and international relations. This international angle is reflected in the European Policies Research Centre (EPRC) which conducts comparative research on public policy. Meanwhile, the Centre for Energy Policy provides independent expertise on energy, working across multidisciplinary groups to shape policy for a low carbon economy.

Explore the Open Access research of the School of Government & Public Policy. Or explore all of Strathclyde's Open Access research...

Why do adolescents self-harm? An investigation of motives in a community sample

Rasmussen, Susan and Hawton, Keith and Philpott-Morgan, Sion and O'Connor, Rory (2016) Why do adolescents self-harm? An investigation of motives in a community sample. Crisis - The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention. ISSN 0227-5910

Text (Rasmussen-etal-Crisis-2015-Why-do-adolescents-self-harm-an-investigation-of-motives)
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (1MB)| Preview


    Given the high rates of self-harm among adolescents, recent research has focussed on a better understanding of the motives for the behaviour. The present study had three aims: to investigate (i) which motives are most frequently endorsed by adolescents who report self-harm; (ii) whether motives reported at baseline predict repetition of self-harm over a 6 month period; and (iii) whether self- harm motives differ between boys and girls. 987 school pupils aged 14-16 years completed a lifestyle and coping questionnaire at two time points 6 months apart that recorded self-harm and the associated motives. The motive "to get relief from a terrible state of mind" was the most commonly endorsed reason for self-harm (in boys and girls). Interpersonal reasons (e.g. "to frighten someone") were least commonly endorsed. Regression analyses showed that adolescents who endorsed "wanting to get relief from a terrible state of mind" at baseline were significantly more likely to repeat self-harm at follow-up than those adolescents who did not cite this motive. The results highlight the complex nature of self-harm. They have implications for mental health provision in educational settings, especially in relation to encouraging regulation of emotions and help-seeking.