Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Suicidal Behavior in a Diverse Sample: The Moderating Role of Social Problem-Solving Ability

Abstract

Non-suicidal self-injury and suicidal behavior are prevalent in young adults, and often constitute a continuum of self-destructiveness. Not all those who self-injure, however, engage in suicidal behaviors with intent to die, perhaps due to protective intrapersonal characteristics. We examined the role of one such potential buffer, social problem-solving ability, as a moderator of the association between non-suicidal self-injury and suicidal thoughts and attempts, hypothesizing that individuals with greater social problem-solving ability would report fewer suicidal behaviors in relation to self-harm. An ethnically diverse sample was recruited from a large, Northeastern urban university, and completed self-report questionnaires assessing non-suicidal self-injury, suicidal behaviors, and social problem-solving ability. Multivariate hierarchical regression analyses were conducted. For the entire sample, individuals with higher social problem-solving abilities reported fewer suicidal behaviors associated with non-suicidal self-injury. In ethnically stratified analyses, social problem-solving significantly moderated the relationship between self-injury and suicidal behaviors for Whites and Hispanics only. Promotion of problem-solving skills may weaken the linkage between self-injury and potential for future suicidal behaviors for some individuals; however, culture-specific differences in this effect may exist.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

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Walker, K.L., Hirsch, J.K., Chang, E.C. et al. Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Suicidal Behavior in a Diverse Sample: The Moderating Role of Social Problem-Solving Ability. Int J Ment Health Addiction 15, 471–484 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-017-9755-x

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Keywords

  • Non-suicidal self-injury
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Social problem-solving
  • Ethnicity