Adolescent self-harm in the community: An update on prevalence using a self-report survey of adolescents aged 13-18 in England

Yvette Morey*, Dominic Mellon, Narges Dailami, Julia Verne, Alan Tapp

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)


    Background To establish an estimate of prevalence in a nationally representative sample of community adolescents. To examine associations between self-harm and wellbeing. Methods An anonymous self-report survey completed by 2000 adolescents aged 13-18 years across England.Wellbeing was measured using theWarwick-Edinburgh MentalWellbeing Scale (WEMWBS). Results In total 15.5% (n = 309) of participants reported ever having self-harmed (95% confidence intervals 13.9-17.1). The median age of onset was 13.0 years. Females aged 13-15 years reported the highest incidence of self-harm within the past year (54.9%). Cutting elsewhere (other than on the arms) was more prevalent amongst females (56.4%). The mean wellbeing score for the whole sample (45.6) was lower than the WEMWBS validation score (48.8). Self-harm was associated with a significantly lower wellbeing score, with mean scores of 38.7 (ever selfharmed) and 46.8 (never self-harmed). Conclusions Self-harm remains prevalent amongst adolescents aged 13-18 years in England. An awareness of the age of peak incidence and risks associated with preferred harming behaviours is crucial during assessment and intervention. The promotion of wellbeing is important for all young people. Further study is needed on the ways in which wellbeing may prevent, or ameliorate, the distress associated with self-harm.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)58-64
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Public Health (United Kingdom)
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Faculty of Public Health. All rights reserved.


    • Epidemiology
    • Mental health
    • Self-harm
    • Young people


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