Rates of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Youth: Age, Sex, and Behavioral Methods in a Community Sample

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, Colorado 80208, USA.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.3). 06/2012; 130(1):39-45. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-2094
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The goal was to assess the rate and behavioral methods of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) in a community sample of youth and examine effects of age and sex.
Youth in the third, sixth, and ninth grades (ages 7-16) at schools in the community were invited to participate in a laboratory study. A total of 665 youth (of 1108 contacted; 60% participation rate) were interviewed about NSSI over their lifetime via the Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors Interview.
Overall, 53 (8.0%) of the 665 youth reported engaging in NSSI; 9.0% of girls and 6.7% of boys reported NSSI engagement; 7.6% of third-graders, 4.0% of sixth-graders, and 12.7% of ninth-graders reported NSSI engagement. There was a significant grade by gender interaction; girls in the ninth grade (19%) reported significantly greater rates of NSSI than ninth-grade boys (5%). Behavioral methods of NSSI differed by gender. Girls reported cutting and carving skin most often, whereas boys reported hitting themselves most often. Finally, 1.5% of youth met some criteria for the proposed fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) diagnosis of NSSI.
Children and adolescents engage in NSSI. Ninth-grade girls seem most at risk, as they engage in NSSI at 3 times the rate of boys. Behavioral methods of NSSI also vary by grade and gender. As possible inclusion of an NSSI diagnosis in the fifth edition of the DSM-5 draws near, it is essential to better understand NSSI engagement across development and gender.

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    ABSTRACT: Epidemiological research on the prevalence of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) has found inconsistent results in terms of gender differences, with some studies showing a higher prevalence for women compared to men and other studies showing no difference. The goal of the current study was to use meta-analytic techniques to better conceptualize the presence and size of gender differences in the prevalence of NSSI. We also examined two factors proposed to explain gender differences in NSSI prevalence: the gender difference would be larger for clinical samples relative to community samples, and the gender difference would be larger for younger (versus older) samples. The results showed that across studies women were significantly more likely to report a history of NSSI than men. Moderator analyses showed that the gender difference was larger for clinical samples, compared to college/community samples. However, there was not a significant relation between age and effect size. Women were more likely to use some methods of NSSI (e.g., cutting) compared to men, but for other methods there was no significant difference (e.g., punching). These results increase our knowledge of NSSI and fit with a larger literature examining gender, emotion regulation, and psychopathology. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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