Commentary: Defining self-harm: how inconsistencies in language persist – a commentary/reflection on Ward and Curran (2021)

Emma Wilson*, Dennis Ougrin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Self-harm definition is an important focus of academic research and clinical practice. The precise definition of self-harm has been contested for decades, and current terminology varies across, and sometimes within, countries. This commentary has been written to highlight the problematic use of the term ‘deliberate’ self-harm (i.e. DSH) and to clarify the terminology currently recommended by clinical agencies in the United Kingdom. Comparisons will be made to other definitions in the field, such as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), with the aim of contributing to the worldwide discussion about how we conceptualise, discuss and treat suicidal and non-suicidal behaviours. The commentary concludes by highlighting the findings of Ward and Curran (2021). It is suggested that undiagnosed ADHD may be a potential driver for self-harm, particularly among girls, further highlighting the ongoing challenges in identifying and predicting which youth are at risk for self-harm and suicidal behaviours. Central to this challenge has been the long-standing confusion around the best way to define self-harm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-374
Number of pages3
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Volume26
Issue number4
Early online date20 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • ADHD
  • clinical guidelines
  • psychosocial assessment
  • Self-harm
  • suicidal behaviours

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