Definition and terminology

Non-fatal deliberate self-harm (DSH) is deliberate overdose or self-injury without a fatal outcome. Most such acts are not determined attempts at self-killing, and therefore the previous terms 'parasuicide' and 'attempted suicide' are less frequently employed. The term 'deliberate self-harm' (DSH) has become preferred, because it is neutral and gives a clearer description.

Accidental injuries and acts intended to cause pleasure are excluded from the definition of DSH. Factitious disorder involves a form of self-injury, such as self-injection with pus to produce fever. The intended outcome is to deceive health-care professionals into thinking that a person is unwell and needs care. However, in this case, the self-injury is clearly only a part of the picture, and thus factitious disorder is regarded as separate from DSH.

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