Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 325–332 | Cite as

Reciprocal Risk: the Longitudinal Relationship between Emotion Regulation and Non-suicidal Self-Injury in Adolescents

  • Kealagh RobinsonEmail author
  • Jessica A. Garisch
  • Tahlia Kingi
  • Madeleine Brocklesby
  • Angelique O’Connell
  • Robyn L. Langlands
  • Lynne Russell
  • Marc S. Wilson

Approximately 18% of adolescents have, without suicidal intent, deliberately engaged in self-injury (Muehlenkamp et al. 2012). For many people who self-injure, NSSI is an adolescent-limited behaviour (Klonsky 2011). The onset of NSSI typically ranges from 12 to 15 years old (Andover et al. 2010; Nixon et al. 2008), prevalence peaks at approximately 15 to 16 and then begins to decline during young adulthood (Plener et al. 2015). Converging evidence from self-report (Edmondson et al. 2016), ecological momentary assessment (Muehlenkamp et al. 2009), and experimental manipulation (Franklin et al. 2010) demonstrates that non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) functions as a strategy to manage emotional distress.

Emotion regulation is the process by which behaviours, skills, and strategies, whether automatic or effortful, modulate, inhibit, and enhance emotional experiences and expressions (Gross & Thompson 2007). In addition to effective use of processes by which we regulate our emotions (e.g.,...



This research was made possible by grant 11/645 from the Health Research Council of New Zealand. We wish to thank Gloria Fraser and Gina M. Grimshaw for their valuable assistance and feedback during the preparation of this manuscript, as well as Laina Isler for her assistance with statistical analyses.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

Ethical approval for this study was granted by the New Zealand National Health and Disability Ethics Committee (12/NTB/35).

Informed Consent

Schools and parents of all participating adolescents were fully informed about the study and subsequently provided written consent; while all children provided verbal assent to participate.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Child and Adolescent Mental Health ServiceCapital and Coast District Health BoardWellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Health Services Research Centre, Faculty of HealthVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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