News & Blog

Jo Kidd, healthtalk.org, 3rd December 2015

Self-harm guide for parents offers hope

Parents of young people who self harm can now get advice and information from a new free booklet produced by researchers at the University of Oxford's Centre for Suicide Research.

The guide was inspired by research that the team carried out with parents for healthtalk.org's self-harm section. Research coordinator Dr. Anne Ferrey said: ‘We developed the guide based on current research on self-harm and on the interviews with parents. It contains quotes from them with advice for other parents as well as evidence-based information and links to sources of help.’

Self-harm is very common in young people, with 10-15% of young people in the UK reporting that they self-harm. Keith Hawton, Professor of Psychiatry, explains: ‘They often do it to deal with bad feelings, feelings of depression, anger, dislike of themselves. It may be done to show other people how bad the person is feeling or to get a sense of control over the person’s life. It may be done for reducing tension. Sadly, it can be a suicidal act and the person actually wants to die.’

As well as information, the new resource provides a source of hope. Many of the parents interviewed had hope for the future and the team’s aspiration is that this will enable other parents to feel some optimism.
 
One parent said of their daughter: ‘I see the future as like a contour map - she will continue to get better and she will have long periods where life is good.’
 
Professor Keith Hawton says: ‘We know that most young people will stop self-harming, perhaps in a few weeks, a few months and sometimes a few years. In a minority it will become part of a longer-term pattern of behaviour, and for some it may indicate longer-term emotional problems, but for the vast majority, self-harm will stop.’

Download 'Coping with self-harm: a guide for parents and carers'.

Visit our 'Self-harm: parents' section.
 

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