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Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2008 Oct;13(4):493-504. doi: 10.1177/1359104508096765.

Deliberate self-harm in children and adolescents: a qualitative study exploring the needs of parents and carers.

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  • 1The Children's University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.


Deliberate Self-harm (DSH) is a serious public health problem and is becoming more prevalent among young people in Ireland. Research tends to focus on the DSH patient. However, parental involvement is recognized as an important factor in their child's prognosis. This study aimed to describe parents' and carers' experiences of self-harm in their child in order to identify their support needs. A focus group methodology was used to generate qualitative data. Representative participants whose children had engaged in suicidal behaviour were recruited from the Paediatric Emergency, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams and Family Support Services. Twenty-five participants attended the focus group meeting. A transcript-based conceptual analysis was conducted to identify and explore emerging themes. Participants expressed the need for support; information about suicidal behaviour in young people; skills for parenting an adolescent; and advice on managing further incidents. Parents described significant difficulties in family communication, in parent-child relationships, and in the area of discipline following self-harm. These findings support current research that identifies the need for service development and information for parents/carers of young people who self-harm.

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