chapter  Thirty Four
8 Pages

Overdose and other self-harm

WithQuentin Spender, Niki Salt, Judith Dawkins, Tony Kendrick, Peter Hill, David Hall, Jackie Carnell

Deliberate self-harm is rare in childhood, but becomes more common among teenagers, especially girls. Self-harm in adolescence most commonly takes the form of overdosing or self-cutting. Cutting is the form of self-harm that is least likely to lead to completed suicide. It ranges in adolescents from one or two attempts at scratching an arm, which is extremely common, to widespread blood-letting on various parts of the body, sometimes involving words. Prolonged attempts to conceal the overdose from others are more worrying than telling the nearest person available immediately. Sometimes the choice of who is told gives important clues to the teenager's relationships. The single most helpful thing a professional can do after an overdose is to encourage communication between the adolescent in crisis and important others around her. These may include her family, boyfriend, other friends and schoolteachers.