Year: 2023 Source: BJPsych Open. (2023). 9(e82), 1–9. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2023.63 SIEC No: 20231268

Background: Previous findings have indicated that self-harm and suicide are associated with different rates, and different risk and protective factors in South Asian people compared with White people in the UK. Substantial qualitative research has explored experiences of self-harm and suicide in South Asian people.

Aims: The study aims to review the existing qualitative evidence on self-harm and suicidal behaviours in South Asian communities in the UK.

Method: Systematic searches were conducted on Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Open Dissertations and the British Library Ethos databases. We selected qualitative studies from both journals and grey literature that included South Asian participants who were resident in the UK and presented perceptions or experiences of self-harm and/or suicidal behaviour. Analysis was undertaken based on the meta-ethnographic approach.

Results: Fifteen studies were included in the analysis. Experience of self-harm was discussed based on three aspects: behind self-harm, functions of self-harm and recovery from self-harm. ‘Behind self-harm’ refers to factors associated with self-harm and suicide. ‘Functions of self-harm’ captures the meaning attributed to self-harm and suicide. ‘Recovery from self-harm’ encapsulates personal and professional help, and practical suggestions for the improvement of mental health services.

Conclusions: Although some similarities with the majority White population were present, there were also crucial differences that need consideration when shaping health policies, improving access to health services and developing culturally sensitive psychosocial interventions for self-harm and suicide specific to South Asian communities in the UK.