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Deliberate self-harm: epidemiology and risk factors 

Deliberate self-harm: epidemiology and risk factors
Deliberate self-harm: epidemiology and risk factors

Ella Arensman

and Ad J. F. M. Kerkhof

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date: 05 July 2022

Deliberate self-harm is a major problem in many contemporary societies. DSH seems to reflect the degree of powerlessness and hopelessness of young people with low education, low income, unemployment, and difficulties in coping with life stress. As such, non-fatal suicidal behaviour should be a major concern for politicians. There are substantial differences between communities in the prevalence of deliberate self-harm. This suggests that some communities better meet the needs of their underprivileged youngsters than others do, but we barely understand the differences between communities and nations. Preventive action therefore is difficult to design. There is a need for a better nationwide continuous registration of DSH and related socio-economic conditions. There is also a need for better mental health care management of DSH patients, and for experimental studies on the prevention of repetition. Although we know that persons who engage in DSH are at high risk for future fatal and non-fatal suicidal behaviour, development of effective intervention, and prevention programmes is a key priority.

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