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Teens tend to disclose self-harm to friends first; youth education in mental health can empower teens to support and encourage friends to seek assistance

This paper synthesizes research related to the protective or risk functions that peer
groups might play for adolescents at risk of self-harm. Across 10 relevant studies,
authors found consensus that adolescents are most likely to disclose self-harming
behaviors to friends first. Peers thus serve as a first-line support to self-harming youths.
While friends may help end the behavior or seek additional help from adults, there are
also instances where peer support may not be helpful. Negative interactions among
social groups can increase the youth’s tendency to self-harm and may also increase the
possibility that the youth’s friends will self-harm. The authors offer suggestions for
mental health awareness education to empower youth to support peers.