To ensure a targeted prevention among teenagers who harm themselves it is important to screen the adolescents in schools and focus on both protective and risk factors. Adolescents aged 13 – 15 years (N=8000) were asked to identify various risk and protective factors decisive for the outcome of the self-harming process. This study differs from other research projects within the field of self- harm, as it focuses on resilience and protective factors. Vulnerable adolescents are offered participation in a psycho-educative program, which is designed to provide the adolescent with the opportunity to talk about their problems and the tools to cope with new challenges. Following the completion of the program the adolescent are screened anew.
The questionnaire survey showed that during periods of self-harming, respondents were under severe psychosocial strain and dominant risk factors were loneliness, personal problems, and problems with primary relations. The most prominent protective factors in the data material are praying, conversation with family and friends, social relations and social support, writing a diary, and playing computer-games, which allow the adolescent to concentrate on something outside their problems and take a break from a life characterized by betrayal, isolation, or hopelessness. Coping depends strongly on a deep-rooted sense of self-esteem and having confidants, for girls in particular having someone to talk to is a major protective factor. Danish schoolchildren can learn new protective factors from emigrants and refugees, yet adolescents of a foreign background can also learn different protective factors from the Danish adolescents.