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What is self-harm?

It is important to be able to define what we mean when we talk about self-harm. A common understanding of what is included under the term self-harm is essential for effective communication between clinicians and successful care for patients who attend hospital after self-harm.

In the below video, Professor Nav Kapur talks about how we define self-harm and describes how common self-harm is. You can also view a transcript (Doc).

The definition of self-harm commonly used in the UK is:

"Any intentional self-poisoning or self-injury, irrespective of type of motivation." (from a paper by Hawton et al, 2003)

This definition is commonly used in research and includes suicide attempts, as well as acts of self-harm with other motives or intentions.