Descriptions of Help by Finnish Adolescents Who Self-Mutilate


  • Marja-Liisa Rissanen, MNSc, PhD (c), RN, is Nurse Researcher, Department of Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital; Jari Kylmä, PhD, RN, is Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer, Department of Nursing Science, University of Kuopio; and Eila Laukkanen, PhD, MD, is Professor and Senior Physician, Department of Adolescent Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.

  • Marja-Liisa Rissanen, Jari Kylmä, and Eila Laukkanen designed the study and prepared the manuscript. Marja-Liisa Rissanen collected the data and analyzed it. Jari Kylmä and Eila Laukkanen supervised the data collection and analysis.

Author contact: marja-liisa.rissanen@kuh.f, with a copy to the Editor:


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to describe help from the viewpoint of self-mutilating Finnish adolescents.

METHODS: Methodological triangulation was used in data collection. Written descriptions were provided by 62 self-mutilating adolescents (aged 12–21 years) of the help they received and wished to receive, and individual interviews were conducted with 10 self-mutilating adolescents (aged 15–22 years). Qualitative content analysis was applied.

FINDINGS: Three groups of people that can be of help were identified by the self-mutilating adolescents: age-mates, including peers and fellow self-mutilating adolescents; loved ones; and adults, including unknown adults, health and social care professionals, teachers and school counsellors, and parents. Factors contributing and hindering to help were identified.

CONCLUSIONS: Self-mutilating adolescents want to be helped and, in their opinion, adults are duty-bound to help and care for them.