Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 3403–3416 | Cite as

Parents’ Experiences of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury Among Adolescents and Young Adults

  • Lauren Kelada
  • Janis Whitlock
  • Penelope HaskingEmail author
  • Glenn Melvin
Original Paper


We assessed the impact of adolescent nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) on parents in two studies. In Study 1, 16 Australian parents of adolescents with a history of nonsuicidal self-injury responded to open-ended questions about their child’s nonsuicidal self-injury. Data from 10 of the adolescents were matched with parents’ responses regarding the nature and extent of nonsuicidal self-injury, revealing that parents underestimated the frequency of nonsuicidal self-injury, the age of onset, and the likelihood their child would continue to self-injure. In Study 2, 22 American parents of adolescents with a history of nonsuicidal self-injury participated in interviews about their experiences. Parents in both studies reported changes in the parent–adolescent relationship after self-injury, which posed challenges to the family unit. When professional help had been sought, experiences were largely negative. Results support further investigation into family-based interventions to equip parents with tools to better relate to, and communicate with, their adolescent following self-injury. Results also suggest that mental-health professionals and general practitioners may require further training for nonsuicidal self-injury.


Self-injury Adolescents Young adults Parental wellbeing 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Research involving Human Participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren Kelada
    • 1
  • Janis Whitlock
    • 2
  • Penelope Hasking
    • 3
    Email author
  • Glenn Melvin
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Developmental Psychiatry and PsychologyMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Human DevelopmentCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.School of Psychology & Speech PathologyCurtin UniversityBentleyUSA

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