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A qualitative exploration of experiences of people with friends who self-harm, the roles of self-harm literature and the extent it is deemed useful

Petty, Ellen (2011) A qualitative exploration of experiences of people with friends who self-harm, the roles of self-harm literature and the extent it is deemed useful. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

A literature review revealed that many people who self-harm seek support from their friends (Evans, Hawton & Rodham, 2005; McDougall, Armstrong & Trainor, 2010) yet there is a lack of information and advice aimed towards friends of a self-harmer (Raphael, Clarke & Kumar, 2006), which is vital in order for them to react constructively (Bateman, 2004). The current research explored the experience of supporting someone who self-harms and views on three leaflets produced by the National Self-Harm Network using semi-structured interviews. Braun & Clarke’s (2006) framework for thematic analysis. Four main themes were identified: trust in professional support, attention seeking, their role as a friend (with sub-themes responsibility & the impact on them and importance of friendship) and finally perceived usefulness of leaflets (including sub-themes distractions list and paucity of constructive advice). Findings suggest friendship is key, both in understanding self-harm and terms of support, NSHN leaflets were inadequate and the impact of self-harm was explored. An underlying faith in professional support was observed despite negative personal experiences. Findings are discussed in relation to the literature with suggestions of further research.

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