Ethnic differences in prevalence and correlates of self-harm behaviors in a treatment-seeking sample of emerging adults

Lillian Polanco-Roman, Aliona Tsypes, Ariella Soffer, Regina Miranda
Psychiatry Research 2014 December 30, 220 (3): 927-34
The present study examined differences between White and ethnic minority emerging adults in the prevalence of self-harm behaviors – i.e., non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicide attempts (SA) – and in well-documented risk (i.e., depressive symptoms, generalized anxiety symptoms, social anxiety symptoms, suicidal ideation (SI), substance use, abuse history) and protective factors (i.e., religiosity/spirituality, family support, friend support) associated with NSSI and SAs. Emerging adults (N=1156; 56% ethnic minority), ages 17–29 (M=22.3, S.D.=3.0), who were presented at a counseling center at a public university in the Northeastern U.S., completed a clinical interview and self-report symptom measures. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression models were used to examine the association between risk and protective factors in predicting history of NSSI-only, any SA, and no self-harm separately among White and ethnic minority individuals. Ethnic differences emerged in the prevalence and correlates of NSSI and SAs. Social anxiety was associated with SAs among White individuals but with NSSI among ethnic minority individuals. Substance use was a more relevant risk factor for White individuals, and friend support was a more relevant protective factor for ethnic minority individuals. These findings suggest differing vulnerabilities to NSSI and SAs between White and ethnic minority emerging adults.

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