Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 67–77 | Cite as

A Study of the Frequency of Self-Mutilation in a Community Sample of Adolescents

  • Shana Ross
  • Nancy Heath


Currently little research exists examining self-mutilation (SM) in community samples of adolescents, despite tentative findings suggesting that self-harming behaviors, including SM may be increasing. The present study provides a comprehensive review of previous literature on the frequency of SM as well as preliminary epidemiological data concerning the frequency of SM in a community sample of high schools students. The relationship between SM, anxiety, and depressive symptomatology was also assessed. Four hundred and forty students from two schools, an urban and a suburban high school, were given a screening measure designed to assess for SM. Students who indicated that they hurt themselves on purpose also participated in a follow-up interview. Based on interviews it was found that 13.9% of all students reported having engaged in SM behavior at some time. Girls reported significantly higher rates of SM than did boys (64 vs. 36%, respectively). Self-cutting was found to be the most common type of SM, followed by self-hitting, pinching, scratching, and biting. Finally, students who self-mutilate reported significantly more anxiety and depressive symptomatology than students who did not self-mutilate. Results are also presented concerning demographic information and patterns of SM behavior.

self-mutilation self-harm adolescents anxiety depression 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shana Ross
    • 1
  • Nancy Heath
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Educational and Counseling PsychologyMcGill UniversityCanada
  2. 2.Department of Educational and Counseling PsychologyMcGill UniversityCanada

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