What Is Parasuicide?

Parasuicide, sometimes called Deliberate Self-Harm, is when someone mimics the act of suicide, but does not end up killing themselves.

Parasuicide is not the same as the people who injure themselves, but who not to a degree that is life-threatening. These people who can also be classed under the heading of deliberate self-harm, usually express other reasons for their actions. For example, some people deliberately cut themselves as they feel this brings them some relief from strong feelings of anxiety or tension that they are feeling at the time.

Who Are At Most Risk Of Parasuicide?

Parasuicide is more common among women. Particularly younger women under the age of 45, and more specifically between the ages of 15 and 25. The highest rates are found in divorced, single, or teenage wives, and is often linked to being poor.

Most cases of parasuicide are associated with mental health problems, particularly common ones are:

Other factors that make an act of parasuicide more likely include:

What Are Common Methods Of Parasuicide?

The most common method of suicide is taking an overdose of drugs. In the UK, 90% of cases involve drugs. These may be ones already prescribed by a doctor, or common medications such as painkillers. Paracetamol is a particularly common choice, but is very dangerous because if the person changes their mind, a small overdose can cause all sorts of physical problems which can leave the person with severe liver damage and in chronic pain.

Why Do People Commit Parasuicide?

Parasuicide may be a genuine attempt by the person to kill themselves, or it has been suggested that it can be 'a cry for help', the person feeling this is the only way that their level of distress is recognised.

In fact, there may be a number of reasons why a person commits a parasuicide, and there are a number of theories around that attempt to explain it. Unfortunately we haven't got the space to go into these here.

What Treatment Will They Receive?

Treatment will depend on the specific circumstances of the patient. It is really important to understand the specific reason someone has committed a parasuicide and if the person has really meant to die, or has done it for another reason however irrational this might be.

Dependent on the outcome of a full assessment the treatment should reflect the causes of the parasuicide.

For example, if a person was suffering from depression, they may well receive antidepressant medication and receive psychotherapy.

Remember having committed an act of parasuicide makes it much more likely that the person will do it again, or even commit suicide. Any signs that all is not well with the person should be picked up early and the appropriate treatment given.

What About The Family & Friends?

Parasuicide is extremely traumatic for those people close to the person involved. These people should consider seeking some help if they feel that they need it. Sometimes these people can be forgotten.

Also those people who may have been around at the time of an attempt (e.g. police, paramedics e.t.c.) can be severely affected by what they see. This can sometimes lead to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

We are creating a SimplePsych factsheet on Suicide and Parasuicide which goes into more detail while still using easy to understand English. If you would be interested at this service being offered to you please let us know by emailing us Click Here

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