Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: The suicide rate in Scotland is twice as high as that in England. However, the prevalence of self-harm is unknown. AIMS: To determine the prevalence of self-harm in adolescents in Scotland and the factors associated with it. METHOD: A total of 2008 pupils aged 15-16 years completed an anonymous lifestyle and coping survey. Information was obtained on demographic characteristics, lifestyle, life events and problems, social influences, psychological variables and self-harm. RESULTS: Self-harm was reported by 13.8% of the respondents. The majority (71%) of those who had self-harmed had done so in the past 12 months and girls were approximately 3.4 times more likely to report self-harm than boys. In multivariate analyses, smoking, bullying, worries about sexual orientation, self-harm by family and anxiety were associated with self-harm in both genders. In addition, drug use, physical abuse, serious boy/girlfriend problems, self-harm by friends and low levels of optimism were also associated with self-harm in girls. CONCLUSIONS: Despite markedly different national suicide rates, the prevalence of self-harm in Scotland is similar to that in England with girls at least three times more likely to report self-harm than boys. The findings suggest a role for emotional literacy programmes in schools and highlight the importance of promoting positive mental health among adolescents.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date





68 - 72


Adaptation, Psychological, Adolescent, Anxiety, Female, Humans, Impulsive Behavior, Life Style, Male, Prevalence, Regression Analysis, Risk Factors, Schools, Scotland, Self Concept, Self Disclosure, Self-Injurious Behavior