Clinical characteristics and functions of non-suicide self-injury in youth

O Rodav, S Levy, S Hamdan
European Psychiatry: the Journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists 2014, 29 (8): 503-8

PURPOSE: Little is known about the clinical characteristics and motivations for engaging in non-suicide self-injury (NSSI) behaviors in adolescence. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence, characteristics and functions of NSSI among adolescents in community settings, and to explore risk factors related to this behavior.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Two hundred and seventy-five adolescents aged 12 to 17 were recruited randomly from different High Schools in Israel. They completed self-report questionnaires assessing NSSI (Ottawa Self-Injury Inventory), depression (Children's Depression Inventory - CDI) and impulsivity (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale - BIS-II).

RESULTS: In the past year, 20.7% of the participants reported engaging NSSI at least once. Among them, 42.1% declared they are still engaging in NSSI at the present. Motives for NSSI were internal emotion regulation reasons, external emotion regulation reasons for social influences. In addition, the NSSI group reported significantly higher levels of depressive, impulsivity and suicidal ideations. Depressive symptoms were found as significant predictors of NSSI in the future.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: High rates of NSSI among community adolescents were found. Depression, impulsivity and suicidal ideation were found significantly related to NSSI. Mental health professionals in schools and in primary care should routinely assess NSSI among adolescents.

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