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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;37(5):600-5.

A population-based study of help-seeking for self-harm in young adults.

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Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand.



To examine help-seeking for self-harm in a population-based sample of young adults.


Nine hundred and sixty-five participants aged 26 years were interviewed about help-seeking and barriers to help-seeking for a range of self-harmful behaviours. Self-harm included the traditional methods of suicide (ICD-9 self-harm) and other self-harmful behaviours such as self-battery and self-biting.


Just over half of the 25 in the ICD-self-harm group (based on ICD-9 self-harm criteria) and one-fifth of the 119 in the other self-harmful behaviour group had sought professional help. Counsellors, psychologists, and general practitioners were the commonest sources of help. Most participants rated help received from health services favourably, however, emergency services were rated less favourably than other health services. Among 77 self-harm participants who did not seek help, just over one-third reported attitudinal barriers.


To encourage help-seeking by young adults who self-harm, especially young men who are at high risk for self-harm and suicide, it may be necessary to identify ways to reduce attitudinal barriers.

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