Evaluations of the quality of coping reported by prisoners who have self-harmed and those who have not
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology
Yufit and Bongar (1992) argued that a deficiency in coping skills is an important risk factor for suicidal behavior. Dear, Thomson, Hall, and Howells (1998) found that prisoners who had self-harmed in the past 3 days were less likely than a comparison group to have used problem-solving or active cognitive coping strategies to handle the most significant stressor of the past week, but it was not clear whether this represented a difference in the quality of coping responses used. In this study, three groups of blind raters (prisoners, prison officers, and forensic psychologists) rated the coping responses of the participants in Dear et al.'s study. The coping responses of self-harmers were judged less beneficial and more risky. Problem-solving strategies were most often cited as contributing to beneficial outcomes and the catharsis strategies employed by self-harmers were most often judged to be counterproductive. It remains unclear whether prisoners who self-harmed routinely employ poor quality coping strategies or if they simply used poor quality coping on this occasion.