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Self-harming Among Teens More Common Than Thought

A new study has suggested that teens indulgence in non-suicidal injury is more common than what was previously suspected.

Non-suicidal self-injury is the deliberate, direct destruction of body tissue without conscious suicidal intent.

The findings are important because it suggests that NSSI is more prevalent among adolescents in the general population than previously thought, says lead author Elizabeth Lloyd-Richardson, PhD, a psychologist at The Miriam Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

If this is the case - its essentially a wake-up call to take better notice of these behaviors in the community and learn how to help teens manage stress without harming themselves, added Lloyd-Richardson.

Researchers decided to explore the frequency and breadth of NSSI engaged in by teens in the community because little is known about self-harming behaviour in this particular population.

Although NSSI is commonly encountered in inpatient and outpatient psychiatric and other institutionalized settings, little research has looked at NSSI in community samples, said Lloyd-Richardson.

A total of 633 high school students (grades 9-12) from schools in the southern and mid-western United States voluntarily and anonymously participated in the study by completing a survey administered by the researchers. The survey asked the participants whether they purposefully engaged in 11 different NSSI behaviours in the past year, and if so, the frequency of occurrence. In addition, the survey assessed the motivations for engaging in NSSI behaviour.

We were surprised to find that 46 percent of the teens in the study reported injuring themselves in the past year on multiple occasions, said Lloyd-Richardson.

Furthermore, 60 percent of these (or 28 percent of the entire sample) endorsed moderate/severe for
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