0-19 Book Review – Deliberate self-harm in adolescence

Deliberate Self-Harm in Adolescence

C. Fox & K.Hawton

Publishers: JKP
ISBN 1 84310 237 4

pb: £15.95

Star Rating 2/5

This book is a guide to research and practice around issues of
deliberate self-harm and is promoted as ‘essential reading for
social workers, mental health practitioners…teachers and
parents’. Unfortunately the appendices and research information is
complex and difficult to follow. Although the summary at the end of
each chapter is helpful, much of the book will be inaccessible to
some practitioners and parents. This book would be particularly
useful to people in the academic world, specialised mental health
practitioners and policy makers.

Fox and Hawton make a clear attempt at the outset to identify
what they mean by ‘deliberate self-harm’,  but the real focus of
this book is potentially fatal self harm suicidal behaviour.
Disappointingly much of the identified research focuses on this and
fails to tackle the challenging grey area of deliberate self-harm
that is non- fatal.

Much of the research presented focuses on gender and age issues
and though  in Chapter 3 where risk factors are discussed mention
is made of the lack of evidence on social exclusion and diversity,
this is not reflected elsewhere in the book. Since the question of
evidence-based practice is not critically explored, there is a real
danger of attempting to apply the research to all groups of young
people irrespective of diversity and difference.

As a book on ‘suicidal behaviour’ there are many strengths as it
has useful pointers to key models and research. The final chapter
in the book lists key messages and this goes some way to
acknowledging that there is still a significant amount of work
needed around this extremely complex and highly emotive area of

Vera Martins is director of 42nd Street (a
Manchester-based youth support project).

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.