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J Health Psychol. 2013 Sep;18(9):1187-98. doi: 10.1177/1359105312459874. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

'In two minds'--socially motivated self-harm is perceived as less serious than internally motivated: a qualitative study of youth justice staff.

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Primary Care Group, University of Manchester, 5th Floor Williamson Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK.


Community-based young offenders are at high risk of self-harm and unlikely to be in contact with mental health services. Semi-structured interviews with community youth justice staff and a content analysis of 50 records of self-harm not only revealed staff concerns about the impact of stigma on disclosure and service use, but also found dismissive attitudes towards socially motivated self-harm, which was equated with lower suicide risk and less emotional distress. Efforts to improve identification of self-harm will need to address the perceived - and false - distinction between 'genuine' and socially motivated self-harm.


mental illness; professional attitudes; screening; self-harm; suicide; young offenders

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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