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European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 22, Supplement 1, pp 75–79 | Cite as

Non-suicidal self-injury

  • Paul Wilkinson
Review

Abstract

More than 20 % of adolescents may self-injure. Often there is no suicidal intent; rather the intent is to reduce distressing affect, inflict self-punishment and/or signal personal distress to important others. Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is both deliberate and contains no desire to die and therefore aetiology is likely to be at least partly different to suicidal behaviour per se. Interestingly, NSSI is associated with subsequent suicide attempts suggesting that these behaviours and their related psychology may lie on the same risk trajectory. NSSI does not, however, appear in DSM-IV or ICD-10 as a disorder; and does not constitute a component of any current anxious or depressive syndrome. This lack of nosological recognition coupled with clear psychopathological importance is to be recognised in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, with NSSI being classified as a syndrome in its own right. We agree that this is appropriate and is likely to have several positive consequences including improving communication between professionals and patients, informing treatment and management decisions and increasing research into the nature, course and outcome of NSSI. We agree that while suicidal and non-suicidal self-harm are often seen together, they are not the same behaviour and that it is both valid and useful to separate them.

Keywords

Non-suicidal self-injury Adolescence Suicide Depression Borderline personality disorder 

Abbreviations

NSSI

Non-suicidal self-injury

DSM-5

5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Notes

Conflict of interest

The corresponding author states that there are no conflicts of interest. This article is part of the supplement “The Future of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology: The Impact of DSM 5 and of Guidelines for Assessment and Treatment”. This supplement was not sponsored by outside commercial interests.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Developmental Psychiatry Section, University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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