Suicide and Self-Harm Definitions

Mental Health, Suicide and Self-Harm Definitions

Eating disorders (anorexia / Bulimia / binge eating)

The Term ‘eating disorder’ is applied to a wide range of disturbed eating behaviours. However, official classification of eating disorders includes three conditions: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (which includes Binge Eating Disorders).

Eating disorders are complex conditions that can be life-threatening. Affected individuals can recover if they receive appropriate treatment. Eating disorders can affect anyone and it is thought that both environmental and genetic factors contribute to their development.

Personality Disorder

A group of conditions characterised by an inability to get on with other people and learn from experience. People with a personality disorder may find that their beliefs and attitudes are different from those of most other people. Others may find their behavioural unusual, unexpected and perhaps offensive. Personality disorder usually becomes apparent in adolescence or early adulthood, although they can start in childhood. People with personality disorder may find it difficult to start or maintain relationships, or to work effectively with others, As a result many may feel alienated and alone. The risk of suicide in someone with a personality disorder is about three time higher than average.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness characterised by disturbances in a person’s thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behaviour. It usually becomes apparent in adolescence or early adulthood, but can also occur later in life. Symptoms are typically divided into two groups, ‘active’ symptoms (also referred to as ‘positive’ or psychotic symptoms) that reflect new or unusual forms of thought and behaviour, and ‘passive’ symptoms (also referred to as ‘negative’ symptoms), which reflect a loss of previous feelings and abilities.
Schizoaffective disorder

A condition featuring symptoms of mood disorders such as depression or bipolar illness, and also of schizophrenia.

Depression (Unipolar disorder)

Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feeling of guilt of low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. If depression becomes chronic or recurrent, it can cause considerable impairments in the ability to take care of daily responsibilities.

Depression occurs in persons of both genders and all ages and backgrounds. It affects approximately 121 million people worldwide and is a leading cause of disability. Depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care. Although depression can be successfully treated fewer than 25% of affected individuals have access to effective treatment.

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression)

Some diagnosed with bipolar disorder may swing in moods of depression to periods of overactive, excited behaviour known as mania. Between these highs and lows, patients often remain stable. Most people will experience a number of episodes, with each lasting three to six months, although some will experience only a single mood episode. Some people also see or hear things that others around them do not (known as having visual or auditory hallucinations or delusions).

Murder Suicide

A murder suicide is when a person kills members of their family before taking their own life, or where an individual murders a number of people in a public place such as a school, before taking their own like.

The generally accepted definition of murder suicide is ‘Murder followed by the suicide of the perpetrator(s) within one week’.

Deliberate Self-harm

Self-injury, also known as self-harm, self-mutilation, or self-abuse occurs when someone intentionally and repeatedly harms herself/himself in a way that is impulsive and not intended to be lethal. For statistics on Deliberate Self-harm see