Skip to main content
×
×
Home

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

  • Rory C. O'Connor (a1), Susan Rasmussen (a1), Jeremy Miles (a2) and Keith Hawton (a3)
Abstract
Background

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.

Method

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Self-harm in adolescents: self-report survey in schools in Scotland
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Self-harm in adolescents: self-report survey in schools in Scotland
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Self-harm in adolescents: self-report survey in schools in Scotland
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Professor R. O'Connor, Suicidal Behaviour Research Group, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK. Email: ro2@stir.ac.uk
Footnotes
Hide All

Declaration of interest

None. Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
1 Hawton, K, Rodham, K, Evans, E, Weatherall, R. Deliberate self-harm in adolescents: self-report survey in schools in England. BMJ 2002; 325: 1207–11.
2 De Leo, D, Heller, TS. Who are the kids who self-harm? An Australian self-report school survey. Med J Aust 2004; 181: 140–4.
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance – United States, 2003. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2004; 53 (SS02): 196.
4 O'Connor, R, Sheehy, N. Understanding Suicidal Behaviour. Blackwell, 2000.
5 Hawton, K, Houston, K, Shepperd, R. Suicide in young people: a study of 174 cases, aged under 25 years, based on coroners' and medical records. Br J Psychiatry 1999; 175: 271–6.
6 Department of Health. Suicide Prevention Strategy for England. HMSO, 2002.
7 Scottish Executive. Choose Life. The National Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan. HMSO, 2002.
8 Hawton, K, Rodham, K. By Their Own Hand. Deliberate Self-Harm and Suicidal Ideas in Adolescents. Jessica Kingsley, 2006.
9 Platt, S, McLean, J, McCollam, A, Blamey, A, Mackenzie, M, McDaid, D, et al. Evaluation of the First Phase of Choose Life: The National Strategy and Action Plan to Prevent Suicide in Scotland. Scottish Executive Social Research, 2006.
10 Brock, A, Baker, A, Griffiths, C, Jackson, G, Fegan, G, Marshall, D. Suicide trends and geographical variations in the United Kingdom, 1991–2004. Health Stat Q 2006; 31: 622.
11 National Institute for Mental Health for England. National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England. Annual Report on Progress 2006. NIMH, 2007.
12 Portzky, G, De Wilde, E-J, van Heeringen, K. Deliberate self-harm in young people: differences in prevalence and risk factors between The Netherlands and Belgium. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2008; 17: 179–86.
13 Carver, CS, Scheier, MF. On the Self-Regulation of Behavior. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
14 O'Connor, RC, Whyte, MC, Fraser, L, Masterton, G, Miles, J, MacHale, S. Predicting short-term outcome in well-being following suicidal behaviour: the conjoint effects of social perfectionism and positive future thinking. Behav Res Ther 2007; 45: 1543–55.
15 O'Connor, RC, Cassidy, C. Predicting hopelessness: the interaction between optimism/pessimism and specific future expectancies. Cogn Emot 2007; 21: 596613.
16 British Educational Research Association. Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research. BERA, 1992.
17 British Psychological Society. Guidelines for Minimum Standards of Ethical Approval in Psychological Research. BPS, 2004.
18 White, D, Leach, R, Sims, R, Atkinson, M, Cottrell, D. Validation of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale for use with adolescents. Br J Psychiatry 1999; 175: 452–4.
19 Plutchick, R, van Praag, HM, Picard, S, Conte, HR, Korn, M. Is there a relation between the seriousness of suicidal intent and the lethality of the suicide attempt? Psychiatry Res 1989; 27: 71–9.
20 Robson, P. Development of a new self-report questionnaire to measure self-esteem. Psychol Med 1989; 19: 513–8.
21 O'Connor, RC, Armitage, CJ, Gray, L. The role of clinical and social cognitive variables in parasuicide. Br J Clin Psychol 2006; 45: 465–81.
22 Scheier, MF, Carver, CS, Bridges, MW. Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): a re-evaluation of the Life Orientation Test. J Pers Soc Psychol 1994; 67: 1063–78.
23 Hewitt, PL, Flett, GL. Perfectionism in the self and social contexts: conceptualization, assessment, and association with psychopathology. J Pers Soc Psychol 1991; 60: 456–70.
24 Sullivan, C, Arensman, E, Keeley, HS, Corcoran, P, Perry, IJ. Young People's Mental Health: A Report of the Results from the Lifestyle and Coping Survey. National Suicide Foundation, 2004.
25 SISA. Power and Calculating Confidence Intervals (http://www.quantitativeskills.com/sisa/statistics/omhlp.htm).
26 Zahl, DL, Hawton, K. Repetition of deliberate self-harm and subsequent suicide risk: long-term follow-up study of 11 583 patients. Br J Psychiatry 2004; 185: 70–5.
27 Ystgaard, M, Reinholdt, NP, Husby, J, Mehlum, L. Deliberate self-harm in adolescents. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen 2003; 123: 2241–5.
28 Centers for Disease Control. Attempted suicide among high school students – United States, 1990. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1991; 24: 633–5.
29 Fekete, S, Voros, V, Osvath, P. Suicidal behaviour and psychopathology in adolescents: results of a self-report survey of 15 and 16-year-old adolescent people in Hungary. Eur Neuropsychopharm 2004; S365.
30 Bjarnason, T, Thorlindsson, T. Manifest predictors of past suicide attempts in a population of Icelandic adolescents. Suicide Life Threat Behav 1994; 24: 350–8.
31 Cheng, AT, Hawton, K, Lee, CT, Chen, TH. The influence of media reporting of the suicide of a celebrity on suicide rates: a population-based study. Int J Epidemiol 2007; 36: 1229–34.
32 Exeter, DJ, Boyle, PJ. Does young adult suicide cluster geographically in Scotland? J Epidemiol Community Health 2007; 61: 731–6.
33 Melhem, NM, Brent, DA, Ziegler, M, Iyengar, S, Kolko, D, Oquendo, M, et al. Familial pathways to early-onset suicidal behavior: familial and individual antecedents of suicidal behavior. Am J Psychiatry 2007; 164: 1364–70.
34 Brunstein Klomek, A, Marrocco, F, Kleinman, M, Schonfeld, IS, Gould, MS. Bullying, depression, and suicidality in adolescents. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2007; 46: 40–9.
35 Spirito, A, Esposito-Smythers, C. Attempted and completed suicide in adolescence. Annu Rev Clin Psychol 2006; 2: 237–66.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

O'Connor et al. supplementary material
Supplementary Table S1

 PDF (40 KB)
40 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 43 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 123 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 2nd January 2018 - 26th April 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

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

  • Rory C. O'Connor (a1), Susan Rasmussen (a1), Jeremy Miles (a2) and Keith Hawton (a3)
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.

×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *