Risk factors associated with self-injurious behavior among a national sample of undergraduate college students

Lindsay A Taliaferro, Jennifer J Muehlenkamp
Journal of American College Health: J of ACH 2015, 63 (1): 40-8

OBJECTIVE: Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidality among undergraduates represent important public health issues. This analysis identified risk factors that distinguished 3 groups, those who reported no history of self-harm; self-injury, but no suicide attempts (NSSI only); and self-injury and a suicide attempt (NSSI + SA) in the past year.

METHODS: Data came from 16,044 undergraduates who completed the Fall 2010 National College Health Assessment.

RESULTS: Over 3% of students reported NSSI, and one third of these individuals also attempted suicide. Factors that distinguished the NSSI only and NSSI + SA groups from the no self-harm group included current depressive symptoms, nonheterosexual orientation, an eating disorder/extreme weight control behavior, and diagnosis of an internalizing disorder. Factors that distinguished the NSSI + SA group from the NSSI only group were current depressive symptoms and diagnosis of an internalizing disorder.

CONCLUSIONS: Students experiencing mental health problems demonstrate increased risk for NSSI and/or suicidal behavior.

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