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The Protective Role of Self-Compassion on Risk Factors for Non-suicidal Self-Injury in Adolescence

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Abstract

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in adolescence is a serious public health problem. Although self-compassion is a protective factor of mental health difficulties in adult populations, its potential impact on adolescence remains scarcely explored. Therefore, we aimed to test whether self-compassion can mitigate the impact of daily peer hassles and depressive symptoms on NSSI. The participants were 643 adolescents (51.6 % female) with ages between 12 and 18 years, from middle and secondary schools. Self-report questionnaires were used to measure daily peer hassles, depressive symptoms, self-compassion and NSSI. Daily peer hassles were positively correlated with depressive symptoms and NSSI. Self-compassion was inversely associated with daily peer hassles and depressive symptoms and NSSI. Path analysis showed that self-compassion had a moderator effect on the association between depressive symptoms and NSSI. Results suggest that self-compassion can be a protective process, as it may buffer against the impact of depressive symptoms on NSSI. This study presents preventive and clinical implications for educators and therapists working with adolescents.

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Acknowledgments

This research has been supported by the first author, Ana Xavier, Ph.D. Grant (Grant Number: SFRH/BD/77375/2011), sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the European Social Fund (POPH).

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Correspondence to Ana Xavier.

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Xavier, A., Pinto-Gouveia, J. & Cunha, M. The Protective Role of Self-Compassion on Risk Factors for Non-suicidal Self-Injury in Adolescence. School Mental Health 8, 476–485 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-016-9197-9

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