Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 885–896 | Cite as

Longitudinal Analysis of Adolescent NSSI: The Role of Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Factors

  • Ruth Tatnell
  • Lauren Kelada
  • Penelope HaskingEmail author
  • Graham Martin


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) occurs in approximately 10 % of adolescents. To establish effective prevention and intervention initiatives, it is important to understand onset, maintenance and cessation of NSSI. We explored whether the relationships between interpersonal factors (i.e. attachment, social support) and NSSI were mediated by intrapersonal factors (i.e. emotion regulation, self-esteem, self-efficacy). Participants were 1973 students (1414 female and 559 male) aged between 12 and 18 years (M = 13.89, SD = 0.97) recruited from 40 Australian high schools. Participants completed a questionnaire at two time-points with a 12-month interval. At baseline, 8.3 % of adolescents engaged in NSSI, increasing to 11.9 % at follow-up. Family support was most salient in onset, maintenance and cessation of NSSI. Attachment anxiety was related to NSSI onset. Of the intrapersonal variables, self-esteem and self-efficacy were significant in predicting onset of NSSI. Self-esteem, self-efficacy and cognitive reappraisal mediated the relationship between attachment anxiety and NSSI onset. A combination of interpersonal and intrapersonal variables contributes to the onset, maintenance and cessation of NSSI in adolescence. Perceived family support appears to be an important safeguard against NSSI. Strategies targeting family functioning and teaching cognitive reappraisal techniques to adolescents may reduce the number engaging in NSSI.


Attachment Self-injury Adolescents Self-esteem Family support 



We thank Sophie Aitken, Tori Andrews, Emily Berger, Teryn Callaway, Lauren Friend, Cassandra Rotolone, Alicia Tanner and David Voon for data collection and entry. Funding was provided by the Australian Research Council.

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Tatnell
    • 1
  • Lauren Kelada
    • 1
  • Penelope Hasking
    • 1
    Email author
  • Graham Martin
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Psychology & PsychiatryMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Clinical Psychiatry and NeuroscienceThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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