Risk factors Protective factors

Characteristics of the individual child

  • Low self esteem
  • Increasing age
  • Poor coping skills
  • Difficult temperament
  • Mental distress or illness, e.g. anxiety/depression
  • Alcohol/substance misuse
  • Stress or worries about school work or peers
  • History of similar behaviour in the past
  • Past or current experience of abuse
  • Feeling isolated
  • Recent bereavement
  • High self esteem
  • Higher ability/attainment
  • Outgoing personality
  • Good coping skills
  • Positive school experience
  • Secure attachment
  • Resilience
  • Knowledge of where to seek support

Features of the immediate context

  • Access to means of causing self-harm
  • Being alone
  • Social exclusion
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Access to social support
  • Social inclusion
Family Factors
  • Family members who self-harm
  • Family conflict
  • Parental separation and divorce
  • Single parent family
  • Parental illness
  • Parental alcohol/drug misuse
  • Sexual/physical abuse
  • Poverty/low socio-economic status
  • Domestic violence
  • Pressure from family to achieve at school
  • Supportive adult relationship
  • Harmonious family relationships
  • Low level of material or social hardship
  • Good role models within family
Peer group
  • Arguments with friends
  • Bullying
  • Friends who self-harm
  • Stable and secure friendship group
School/college
  • Pressure from school to perform well
  • Supportive adult
  • Inclusive/incorporative ethos
  • Strong commitment to PSHE mental health promotion
  • Establishment of peer support systems

Wider culture and community

  • Minority status
  • Problems in relation to race, culture or religion
  • Problems regarding sexual orientation or identity
  • Media portrayals glamorise self-harm or suicide 'victims' and elicit 'copy-cat' responses by vulnerable children and young people
  • Access to social support