The role of schools in children and young people’s self-harm and suicide: systematic review and meta-ethnography of qualitative research
The incidence of adolescent self-harm and suicidal behaviour has increased globally, with many adolescents repeating the behaviour. While studies indicate that large numbers of adolescents who self-harm do not seek professional help, research focusing on barriers to help seeking from an adolescent perspective is limited. Locally, a rise in reported and unreported rates of self-harm and a number of suspected child suicides prompted the commissioning of a research project to ascertain young people's experiences of help and support for self-harm and how their future needs could be best met. Qualitative research, adopting an interpretive phenomenological analysis, was used to elicit narratives of adolescents engaging in self-harm. Data were collected via 1:1 interviews with seven participants and analysed in two stages: an analysis of each individual narrative, and thematic analysis across the group. Three themes were identified: (i) cutting out the stress; (ii) stepping onto the path of help; and (iii) cutting to the chase. In conclusion, mental health nurses have a vital role in providing knowledge and support to those likely to have initial contact with this vulnerable group and to the wider population, ensuring we more effectively address the increasing use of this risky behaviour among young people.