Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 233–242 | Cite as

Differences in Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents

  • Amy M. Brausch
  • Peter M. Gutierrez
Empirical Research


As suicide attempts and self-injury remain predominant health risks among adolescents, it is increasingly important to be able to distinguish features of self-harming adolescents from those who are at risk for suicidal behaviors. The current study examined differences between groups of adolescents with varying levels of self-harmful behavior in a sample of 373 high school students with a mean age of 15.04 (SD = 1.05). The sample was 48% female and the distribution of ethnicity was as follows: 35% Caucasian, 37.2% African-American, 16% Multi-ethnic, 9.2% Hispanic, and 2.3% Asian. The sample was divided into three groups: no history of self-harm, non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) only, and NSSI in addition to a suicide attempt. Differences in depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, social support, self-esteem, body satisfaction, and disordered eating were explored. Results indicated significant differences between the three groups on all variables, with the no self-harm group reporting the lowest levels of risk factors and highest levels of protective factors. Further analyses were conducted to examine specific differences between the two self-harm groups. Adolescents in the NSSI group were found to have fewer depressive symptoms, lower suicidal ideation, and greater self-esteem and parental support than the group that also had attempted suicide. The clinical implications of assessing these specific psychosocial correlates for at-risk adolescents are discussed.


Suicide Non-suicidal self-injury Adolescents Depression 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyEastern Illinois UniversityCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.VA VISN 19, Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Colorado, Denver School of MedicineDenverUSA

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