Non-suicidal self-injury: Another effective avenue of intervention?

The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day, and here in Australia a variety of activities helped ensure that mental health was openly discussed during Mental Health Week (5-12 October). As a researcher who works with adolescents, I am interested in their mental health, particularly as it can have pervasive implications for their injury prevention. I thought I would share an interesting article regarding non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), an intentional injury which unfortunately has been found to be associated with a breadth of other injuries including suicide.

As part of a larger study exploring how adolescents cope with emotional problems, Voon, Hasking, and Martin (2014) explored the role of a number of variables in NSSI amongst a sample of 41 Australian high schools (Time 1 n = 2637 students; Time 2: 12 months post-baseline, n = 2328; Time 3: 24 months post-baseline n = 1984). Lifetime prevalence of NSSI increased over time (8.1% – 10.1%), with adolescents engaging in NSSI typically starting the behaviour aged 12-14 years. Experiencing more adverse life events and high psychological distress increased the risk of the first episode of NSSI, consistent with other research findings that adolescents respond to acute life stress and emotional distress through NSSI. This suggests that adolescents in these tumultuous states could benefit from NSSI-targeted interventions which could prevent NSSI include cognitive reappraisal in particular.

The ripple effect of such support for adolescents in particular could indeed offer another effective avenue of intervention for a breadth of injuries during the developmental period of adolescence and young adulthood.

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