Subjective pain during NSSI as an active agent in suicide risk

Brooke A Ammerman, Taylor A Burke, Lauren B Alloy, Michael S McCloskey
Psychiatry Research 2016 February 28, 236: 80-5
Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) has been identified as a correlate and predictor of suicidal ideation and attempts. Given the high-rates of NSSI presence among adolescents and young adults, it is important to identify specific characteristics of NSSI that might place individuals who engage in this behavior at highest risk for suicidal behavior. NSSI is thought to increase the acquired capability for suicide via habituation to self-harm, though the NSSI characteristics most responsible for this relationship are unclear. The current study examined three characteristics of NSSI (frequency, number of methods, and subjective pain) that may help to elucidate this risk relationship. University students (N=997) with a history of NSSI completed measures assessing lifetime NSSI frequency, number of NSSI methods employed, and subjective experience of pain during NSSI, as well as suicide attempt (SA) history. Results indicated that NSSI frequency, number of NSSI methods, and subjective pain experienced during NSSI were each positively associated with SA history. Further, subjective pain experienced during NSSI moderated the relationship between NSSI frequency and SA history, such that the association between NSSI frequency and SA history was stronger for individuals who experienced lower levels of subjective pain.

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