chapter  9
Self-harm
Dispelling the myths
ByAng Davey, Anna Davey
Pages 12

This chapter explores the evolution of the meaning of self-harm. Before 1945, self-harm was often regarded as attempted suicide. Self-harm typically involves cutting, burning, scratching, hair-pulling, head banging, interfering with wound healing and taking toxic substances. Self-harm is more prevalent in female young people, but in later teens and adulthood the difference is reduced between males and females. The Association for Young People's Health suggests that self-harm is higher in adolescent females because they are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, and there is an established link between these mental health issues and self-harm. As a secretive activity, once a young person has self-harmed, they will need to know how to care for the physical damage that they have done to themselves to avoid further complications such as septicaemia or blood loss. Most self-cutting consists of multiple surface and superfluous cuts that can be managed by cleaning and a dressing.