Reasons for deliberate self-harm: Comparison of self-poisoners and self-cutters in a community sample of adolescents

K Rodham, K Hawton, E Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

231 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To compare motives and premeditation between adolescent deliberate self-poisoners and self-cutters. Method: In a sample of 6,020 pupils aged 15 and 16 years who completed a self-report questionnaire, those who had deliberately cut themselves in the previous year (n = 220) were compared with those who had taken overdoses (n = 86). Results: More adolescents who took overdoses than those who cut themselves said that they had wanted to die (66.7% versus 40.2%, chi(2) = 14.94, p < .0001) and had wanted to find out if someone loved them (41.2% versus 27.8%, chi(2) = 4.14, p = .042). Female self-cutters were more likely than male self-cutters to say that they had wanted to punish themselves (51.0% versus 25.0%, chi(2) = 9.25, p = .002) and had tried to get relief from a terrible state of mind (77.2% versus 60.9%, chi(2) = 4.78, p = .029). More self-cutters than self-poisoners had thought about the act of self-harm for less than an hour beforehand (50.9% versus 36.1%, chi(2) = 5.25, p = .021) Conclusions: There are differences between adolescents' motives for overdoses and for self-cutting, and also gender differences in the reasons for self-cutting. The often impulsive nature of these acts (especially self-cutting) means that prevention should focus on encouraging alternative methods of managing distress, problem-solving, and help-seeking before thoughts of self-harm develop.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-87
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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