Peer and Media Exposure to Nonsuicidal Self-Injury and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents
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Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a highly concerning behavior that most often emerges during adolescence, and poses a major risk for attempting suicide. Research has shown that peer and media exposure to NSSI and suicide are both related to engagement in these dangerous behaviors. Our study examined the relationship between specific types of exposure to NSSI and suicide and engagement in these behaviors among inpatient adolescents. Participants included 88 adolescents, ages 12 to 17, who completed a structured interview and self-report questionnaires. We found that adolescents who have engaged in NSSI reported significantly higher amount of prior exposure to NSSI (especially cutting), knowing more friends who engaged in NSSI, and higher amount of prior exposure to NSSI via social networking sites than adolescents who have not engaged in NSSI. Adolescents who have attempted suicide reported significantly higher amount of prior exposure to suicide attempts, knowing more friends and celebrities who have attempted suicide, and higher amount of prior exposure to suicide via social networking sites than adolescents who have not attempted suicide. We also examined the relationship between multidimensional perceived social support (friend, family and significant other), exposure, and engagement in NSSI or suicide attempts. Adolescents who have attempted suicide reported significantly lower levels of perceived social support from family members than adolescents who have not attempted suicide. The dangerous outcomes for NSSI and suicide attempts make them important topics for research, especially in adolescents. These results implicate multiple types of exposure to NSSI and suicide as strongly related to engagement in these behaviors, which may offer directions for future interventions.