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Self-Harm in Adolescence

Iva Buresová

The author discusses the subject of self-harm in adolescence, considering the historical context of the development of its classification system. She presents an overview of theoretical fundamentals as well as models of behavior derived from them. Within the context of current research studies, she describes its prevalence, etiology, and comorbidity. The author specifies the basic protective and risk factors as well as all important influences. She presents the diagnostic tools currently used in research and clinical practice including the description of key approaches to prevention, therapy and treatment. This book includes the results of a unique research study mapping the lexical trace of the term self-harm in adolescents and the differences in perception of this term among those without own practice, with mediation and with personal, often repeated experience.
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3 Risk and Protective Factors of Self-Harm


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3   Risk and Protective Factors of Self-Harm

Self-harm behaviour is viewed by the majority of society and in most cultures as socially unacceptable and typically serves the idiosyncratic purpose of coping with a personal problem or subjective distress (Claes & Vandereycken, 2007). Self-harm behaviour can be broadly categorised as including both direct and indirect modes of self-damaging acts such as NSSI, suicide attempts and particular eating, drinking and smoking habits (Lloyd-Richardson et al., 2007; St. Germain & Holley, 2012). Considering the closeness of the terms “self-harm” and “self-injury”, we can base the main areas, which can be risky for the development of self-harm, on the Biopsychosocial Model for Self-Injury, as described by Heath & Nixon (2009).

Figure 7.  Biopsychosocial model for self-injury (Heath & Nixon, 2009, p. 146).

The combination of these influences, along with the various degrees of their intensity, is highly individual in each person. It follows from the above-mentioned model that these crucial areas can also fulfil the protective function at the other end of the risk continuum. Risk factors condition the increase of the likelihood of negative outcome. In this case, these are conditions that precede and directly ← 55 | 56 → or indirectly contribute to the onset and maintenance of NSSI (Whitlock & Selekman, 2014). Protective factors are conditions that effectively buffer adolescents from a negative outcome. The same as risk factors, protective factors may precede or co-occur with self-harm behaviour and may directly or...

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