Frequency, Versatility, and Duration of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Relation to Acquired Capability for Suicide among Adolescents




Matney, Jacquelyn Deanna

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Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among youth, and those who present to inpatient settings have been shown to have higher rates of suicidal behaviors (World Health Organization, 2012). Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a leading risk factor for suicide. We propose that an increase in frequency, versatility, and/or duration of NSSI is associated with an increased risk for suicide attempt (SA) by means of the Acquired Capability for Suicide (ACS) proposed in Joiner's (2005) Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPTS) regardless of demographic or diagnostic factors. Preliminary results from this sample of inpatient adolescents (N = 150) were consistent with our proposed hypotheses. Yet, depressive symptoms appeared to interact with the association between these NSSI variables and ACS. These findings suggest that inpatient youth with greater NSSI versatility, frequency and duration, are at an increased risk for future SA by means of increased ACS. Consistent with the IPTS, the link between engagement in NSSI and history of SA appeared to be mediated by the ACS component. While limited by its cross-sectional design, the findings from this study have clinical implications regarding suicide risk assessment and prevention.

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