Factors helping adolescents to stop self-cutting: descriptions of 347 adolescents aged 13–18 years

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Abstract

Aims and objectives

To describe the factors contributing to the stopping of self-cutting among 13–18-year-old Finnish adolescents from the personal perspective of the adolescents.

Background

Self-cutting is quite common among adolescents. However, adolescents' personal descriptions of what helped them to stop self-cutting have not previously been investigated.

Design

Qualitative descriptive design with quantification.

Methods

The data were collected from 347 participants using structured self-rating questionnaires as a part of a larger research project focusing on the mental well-being of adolescents aged between 13–18 years in Finland. The participants were asked to write their own descriptions of how they had been able to stop self-cutting, if they had done so. The data were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Frequencies and percentages were calculated in relation to the total number of identified references to factors contributing to the stopping of self-cutting. This enabled the determination of the most important factors helping adolescents to stop self-cutting from their own perspective.

Results

Six main themes emerged: factors associated with self-cutting and meanings related to it (n = 173); personal factors (n = 126); factors associated with other people (n = 104); factors associated with care or therapy (n = 18); meanings related to the instruments used to cut (n = 1) and unidentified factors (n = 18).

Conclusions

Factors associated with self-cutting and meanings related to it were the most important factors contributing to the stopping of self-cutting. Personal factors and those associated with other people were also important, while factors associated with care were of less importance in this study.

Relevance to clinical practice

The factors identified in this study could potentially be used in clinical practice to assist other adolescents in stopping their self-cutting.

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