Nuorten itsetuhoisuus ja siihen liittyvä apu

Tiina Miettinen

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


The purpose of this study was to describe the reasons for adolescents’ self-harm, its manifestation, and the expectations of getting help and the experiences of help from the perspective of Finnish self-harming adolescents and their parents. By forming a synthesis of the Finnish adolescents’ self-harm and related help, the study aimed to provide information that can be used to develop the identification of adolescent self-harm and the customer-oriented help of self-harming adolescents and their parents. As a starting point of the study, the term self-harm was used to refer to all self-harming acts and self-harming thoughts, as well as suicide attempts and suicides.

To describe the experiences of adolescents and parents in as diverse and authentic a way as possible, the study employed a qualitative descriptive research methodology. Participants in the study included 28 adolescents and 23 parents with personal experience of adolescent self-harm. The data were collected through essays, interviews, and an electronic questionnaire. The data featured in the sub-publications were analyzed by inductive content analysis, and used in the summary section to form a synthesis of the results.

According to the results of the study, the reasons for adolescents’ self-harm are difficulties in their mental health, emotional problems, self-esteem problems, inter-personal difficulties, predisposing or triggering factors related to the adolescent’s course of life, performance pressures and demands in society experienced by the adolescent, and difficulties in the adolescent’s home and family life. These reasons are unique to each adolescent, and there is often more than one reason underlying their self-harm. According to this study, adolescents’ self-harm manifests itself as direct and indirect self-harming acts, as thoughts and hopes for self-harm or death, and in adolescent’s forms of expression, and in other worrying symptoms that may be seen in the adolescent. Help is expected for the self-harming adolescent, as well as for their parents, the rest of the family, and their loved ones. Self-harming adolescents and their parents expect better help, and some of their expectations are targeted broadly towards society at large. Self-harming adolescents and their parents have different experiences of help, good help can come from other people, but help can also be found in oneself. However, getting help is often perceived as difficult, and many things cause dissatisfaction with either the help that is offered or with the helpers themselves. Additionally, there are also various problems seen in the help system itself.

This study revealed important information about the phenomenon of self-harm among adolescents in Finland, and also about how the self-harming adolescents and their parents are treated, and about the state of adolescent and family services in the country. Especially, a range of expectations and problems related to various institutions of society were widely raised. According to the results, while the phenomenon of self-harm will likely become more visible in our society, its identification will become easier. Furthermore, the development of genuinely helpful and customer-oriented services is made possible by drawing on the experiences of those in need of help. Thus, helping self-harming adolescents and their parents ultimately consists of very simple steps, such as trusting, identifying, understanding, asking, listening, and taking into account and respecting the individual needs and desires of those involved.
Original languageFinnish
Place of PublicationTampere
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-2493-3
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028

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