Self Harm Essay

1121 words - 4 pages


Table of Contents
1 Introduction 3
2 Types of Self Injury 3
3 Risk Factors 3
3.1 Childhood Risk Factors 3
3.2 Adult Risk Factors 3
3.3 Co-existing Medical Conditions 3
4 Complications 4
4.1 Medical Complications 4
4.2 Emotional Complications 4
4.3 Practical Complications 4
5 Presentation and Diagnosis 4
6 Prevention and Management 5
6.1 Medical Management 5
6.2 Therapeutical Management 5
6.3 Psychiatric Management 5
7 Conclusion 5
8 References 6
9 Help and Support 6

1. Introduction
Self-injury is a term which describes a variety of behaviours in which there are two critical elements: the damage is acute and the damage is intentional. Self injury is generally an unhealthy effort to cope with overwhelming emotions, such as intense anger, rage, terror or shame. There is often a distinction made by psychiatrists between attempted suicide and self-injury as these acts are most often done without suicidal intent. The damage caused is generally severe enough to leave a bruise, scar or other mark, or cause health issues.

2. Types of self injury
Self injury includes, but is not limited to, cutting, burning, branding, overdosing, bone breaking, interfering with wound healing, scratching, biting, hair pulling (Trichotillomania) and puncturing the skin. It may also include eating disorders, excessive drinking and drug use, although these are disputed by some physicians.

3. Risk factors
3.1 Childhood risk factors
 Sexual abuse
 Neglect
 Emotional abuse
 Physical abuse
 Loss or separation
 Parental mental health issues
 Parental substance abuse
3.2 Adult risk factors
 Rape or sexual abuse
 Psychiatric diagnoses
 Substance misuse
 Absence of emotional support
 Intense and distressing emotions
3.3 Co-existing medical conditions
 Anxiety Disorders (e.g. Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder)
 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
 Bipolar Disorder
 Autism Spectrum Disorder
 Eating Disorder (e.g. Anorexia Nervosa)
 Personality Disorder (e.g. Borderline Personality Disorder, Anti-Social Behaviour Disorder)
4. Complications
4.1 Medical complications
Approximately 3 in 100 people who self injure over 15 years will die from accidental suicide, 50 times higher than the average rate for those who don't self injure. This risk is greater in men and increases with age.
Various forms of self injure may leave permanent scarring and have a possibility of permanent damage to nerves and tendons which can lead to weakness or numbness.
It is also possible that someone who has cut may need a tetanus shot if the instrument used is not clean or there is poor first aid.
4.2 Emotional complications
People who have self injured are more likely to develop further emotional issues which will lead to other episodes of self injury which can cause greater feelings of shame and/or guilt which may then lead to a routine of self injury to cope with these distressing emotions.
Those who self injure are also more likely to withdraw from...

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