Non-suicidal self-injury and suicidal behavior: prevalence, co-occurrence, and correlates of suicide among adolescents in Hong Kong

Yee Tak Derek Cheung, Paul Wai Ching Wong, Antoinette Marie Lee, Tai Hing Lam, Yun Sun Susan Fan, Paul Siu Fai Yip
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2013, 48 (7): 1133-44

BACKGROUND: Despite increasing concern over the prevalence of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) among adolescents, there is debate about its classification as a stand-alone psychiatric diagnosis. This study investigated the patterns, co-occurrence, and correlates of NSSI and other suicidal behaviors among a representative community sample of in-school adolescents.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of 2,317 adolescents was conducted. Participants were asked to self-report NSSI, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and psychosocial conditions over the past 12 months. Logistic regression and cumulative logit modeling analyses were conducted to investigate the different and similar correlates among these self-harm behaviors.

RESULTS: The age-standardized prevalence rates of NSSI among male and female adolescents were estimated to be 13.4 and 19.7 %, respectively, compared with 11.1 and 10.1 % for male and female suicide attempt. Only a small proportion engaged in NSSI exclusively in the past year. NSSI by burning or reckless and risky behaviors, frequent drinking, and sexual experience were associated with increasing severity level of suicidal behaviors among individuals with NSSI.

CONCLUSIONS: NSSI is prevalent among in-school adolescents in Hong Kong. However, it co-occurs with suicidal ideation and suicide attempt. High lethality of NSSI, frequent drinking habit, and lifetime sexual experience are suggested to be indicators for screening potential suicide attempters among those having NSSI.

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