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Self-harm within inpatient psychiatric services: most episodes are among women, involve breaking the skin and take place in private
  1. Peter D Mills
  1. Director, VA National Center for Patient Safety Field Office, White River Junction, Vermont, USA and Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry, The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, NH, USA
  1. Correspondence to : Dr Peter D Mills
    VA National Center for Patient Safety, VAMC (10A 4E), 215 North Main Street, White River Junction, VT 05055, USA; peter.mills{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • Focusing on the method, antecedents and level of openness of self-harm can inform clinicians and researchers about the possible motivators and goals of the behaviour and lead to a more clear understanding of possible interventions.

  • The majority of self-harm does not appear to represent an attempt to manipulate others or gain their attention; rather it is more often a private act with other internal motivations.

  • More research is needed to determine the most effective interventions for different types of self-harm in the inpatient setting. Targeted intervention for specific types of self-harm may be …

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  • Competing interests None.