Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 11, pp 3564–3571 | Cite as

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Among Male Adjudicated Adolescents: Psychosocial Concerns, Coping Responses, Diagnoses, and Functions

  • Jenna R. Silverman
  • Emma H. Ross
  • Christopher A. KearneyEmail author
Original Paper


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) refers to self-inflicted physical injury without suicidal intent. NSSI is particularly common in forensic settings and associated with several psychosocial concerns, coping responses, diagnoses, and functions, but little information is available regarding NSSI in adjudicated male adolescents. The present study examined the frequency and types of NSSI among adjudicated male adolescents (n = 103) and assessed the relationships between NSSI history, psychosocial concerns, coping responses, diagnoses, and functions within this population. Approximately two-thirds (66%) reported NSSI history. Participants with NSSI history reported poorer social adaptation and greater alienation and boredom, aggression, and emotional lability than controls. Youth with high-frequency NSSI were also more likely to utilize emotional discharge as an unhealthy coping response than controls. In addition, participants with high-frequency NSSI were more likely than controls to meet criteria for a mood or anxiety disorder. Function of NSSI primarily surrounded anxiety reduction/affect regulation, punishment, dissociation reduction, and social/sensation-seeking. NSSI appears to be prevalent among male adjudicated youths, and the findings suggest that the relationship between NSSI history, psychosocial concerns, coping responses, and functions is nuanced and could inform more calibrated assessment and treatment strategies.


Non-suicidal self-injury Adjudicated male adolescents Coping responses Function 


Author Contributions

J. R. S: co-designed and executed the study, assisted with data analyses, and co-wrote the paper. E. H. R: collaborated with the writing of the study and manuscript preparation. C. A. K: co-designed the study, assisted with data analyses, and co-wrote the paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Informed Consent

Parents of 99 youth provided consent (and all youth provided assent) and 4 youth aged 18 years provided self-consent for this study.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenna R. Silverman
    • 1
  • Emma H. Ross
    • 2
  • Christopher A. Kearney
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.University of MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.University of NevadaLas VegasUSA

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