Year: 2016 Source: Crisis.(2015).37(1):42-50. DOI:10.1027/0227-5910/a000325 SIEC No: 20160274

The relationship between self-harm and suicide is contested. Self-harm is simultaneously understood to be largely nonsuicidal but to increase risk of future suicide. Little is known about how self-harm is conceptualized by general practitioners (GPs) and particularly how they assess the suicide risk of patients who have self-harmed. Aims: The study aimed to explore how GPs respond to patients who had self-harmed. In this paper we analyze GPsÕ accounts of the relationship between self-harm, suicide, and suicide risk assessment. Method: Thirty semi-structured interviews were held with GPs working in different areas of Scotland. Verbatim transcripts were analyzed thematically. Results: GPs provided diverse accounts of the relationship between self-harm and suicide. Some maintained that self-harm and suicide were distinct and that risk assessment was a matter of asking the right questions. Others suggested a complex inter-relationship between self-harm and suicide; for these GPs, assessment was seen as more subjective. In part, these differences appeared to reflect the socioeconomic contexts in which the GPs worked. Conclusion: There are different conceptualizations of the relationship between self-harm, suicide, and the assessment of suicide risk among GPs. These need to be taken into account when planning training and service development.