9th January, 2020

Self-Harm Policy

This policy is written with reference to the Trinity Catholic School Mission Statement:

“This Catholic School will seek to educate the whole person, academically, morally, socially and spiritually through the example of Jesus Christ and the witness of committed capable teachers.”(Mission Statement)


Self-harm is a significant issue among young people, often indicating an underlying mental health concern. Self-harm is not a new phenomenon, but is becoming increasingly evident in schools. Self-harm is deliberate behaviour with the intent of causing non-fatal injury to attain relief of tension. There are various methods of self-harm tools used by young people, with the seriousness of the injuries differing greatly including: skin picking and scratching, moderate cuts and burns to taking an overdose of medication.

Self-harm is often associated with a history of trauma such as sexual abuse and or mental health conditions such as depression or eating disorders. However, self-harm can occur independent of mental health disorders or prior trauma and there is a growing trend of self-harming behaviour in adolescents without a diagnosed mental health issue. Essentially, any life event or circumstance that leads to the inability to develop healthy coping strategies can precipitate self-harming behaviour.

Bullying, peer relationships, abuse, neglect, family difficulties, boy/girlfriend troubles, sexuality, loneliness, pressures of exams, drug or alcohol problems, eating disorders etc… can trigger self-harming behaviour. In addition, social modelling can play an important role as those who have a friend who self-harms are more likely to do it.

Young people who self-harm are usually experiencing a great deal of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness and isolation. They have difficulty in experiencing, expressing and regulating thoughts and feelings. The purpose of self-harm is emotional regulation, in other words it is used and becomes a coping strategy to help the young person feel better. For some, physical pain may be easier to deal with than emotional pain.

Self-harm can develop into a negative coping pattern. This behaviour is repetitive in nature and can have an addictive quality. The risk for an accidental death can increase with each incident of self-harm.

Self-harm and Suicide

There is a distinction between self-harm as a negative coping skill and self-harm occurring with suicidal ideation. Self-harming behaviour is aimed at coping with life, and not ending it.

The underlying characteristics of self-harming and suicidal behaviour differ in their intention, method, potential to be fatal and frequency.

Characteristics Self-harming behaviour Suicidal behaviour
Intention To relieve emotional pain; to live and feel better To put an end to unbearable pain; to die
Method Thought to be non-lethal Lethal and thought to be lethal
Potential to be fatal Unlikely and perceived by the person as not fatal Highly likely or seen by the person as likely to be fatal
Frequency Frequent; daily, weekly, monthly and repeated over time Most likely to be a single or occasional attempt

Procedures for incidents of self-harm either within school or disclosed within school

If an incident of self-harm occurs during the school day or a pupil discloses that they have self-harmed, respond calmly and neutrally to prevent reinforcing the behaviour.

Acknowledge what the pupil has done in a matter of fact way.

A disclosure should be immediately reported to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL): Mrs Ella Aitchison or Mrs Sarah Wilkinson or to the Headteacher

The procedures set out below will then be followed:

  • Pupil is interviewed by DSP and the level of risk is ascertained. (Is the behaviour motivated by intent to die?)
  • If possible and/or appropriate, wounds are examined/treated by first aiders: Mrs J Maltby or Mrs A Mount
  • Parents/carers of pupil are contacted and if deemed necessary asked to come in to school for a meeting regarding their child’s self-harm
  • It is recommended that parents/carers seek guidance/support from their GP
  • All notes are recorded in the safeguarding diary and/or pupil’s Confidential file
  • Relevant members of staff are informed: Progress Co-ordinators, SLT etc

Depending on the level of risk some or all of the following may be actioned:

  • Time out and support – Elim House/Emmaus Centre
  • Referral to the school nurse
  • Referral to school mentoring service: Heather Ridgley
  • Referral to Faith in Families counsellor
  • Referral to CAMHS and/or seen at school via SHARPS drop-in
  • Referral to Harmless or Kooth
  • Referral to Children’s Social Care to register concerns about pupil’s safety and emotional well being
  • Risk assessment written and shared with relevant agencies to minimise risk to pupil whilst at school
  • Parent/carer asked to collect their child from school
  • Pupil taken straight to A&E for assessment by hospital self-harm team


Pending new policy from OLOL MAT Oct/Nov 2019

Base 51
Faith in Families
SHARP Project