Dr Maggie Long, Dr Roger Manktelow, Dr Anne Tracey (Ulster)
Self-harm is a significant public health issue and an important risk factor for suicide, about which there is a lack of Northern Ireland-based research. Self-harm is recognised to be considerably more prevalent than is suggested by reported figures based on hospital emergency department presentations. Self-harm is often a hidden behaviour, and thus the extent of the phenomenon is unknown. Help-seeking is a crucial factor in suicide intervention, yet it is a complex and difficult process for people who self-harm. This presentation reports on the findings from qualitative research, which aimed to understand experiences of self-harm and help-seeking from the perspectives of people with a history of self-harm and practitioners experienced in working with the behaviour. It focuses on data collected from one-to-one interviews with participants (n=30) recruited at a community level, independent of statutory services, to gain insight into hidden self-harm. It outlines key findings that provide understanding about the onset of self-harm, experiences of disclosure, help-seeking and treatment services, as well as suggestions for encouraging help-seeking and improving support for people who self-harm. The presentation concludes considering the findings’ relevance for enhancing understanding of this under-researched issue and informing service provision and policy in Northern Ireland.
Date of seminar: 4 November 2015.