A guide from the University of Oxford and the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust offers practical ways in which schools and school staff can support young people at risk from self-harm

Finding out that a young person is self-harming can be difficult and upsetting. However, teachers and other school staff can play a very important role in helping young people who self-harm

Who is vulnerable to self-harm?

Self-harm is common among young people – at least 10 per cent report having self-harmed – and it is more common in girls than boys, especially in early adolescence. Examples of ways in which a person might intentionally injure themselves include self-cutting, taking an overdose, swallowing objects or poisons, hitting or bruising, self-strangulation and burning.

Some young people are particularly vulnerable to self-harm, especially if:

Self-harm can be a way of coping with life stresses – for example, to manage emotional upset, to reduce tension, to provide a feeling of physical pain to distract from emotional pain, or to express emotions such as hurt, anger or frustration – but in some cases self-harm may reflect a wish to die.

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