The Development of First-Episode Direct Self-Injurious Behavior and Association with Difficulties in Emotional Regulation in Adolescence

C. Connor, S. Channa, A. Lavis, N. Leung, N. Parsons, M. Birchwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Self-harm remains a serious public health concern; however, identifying adolescents at risk is challenging. While self-harm has been linked with difficulties in emotional regulation postinjury, comparatively little is known about how such difficulties may impact on the future development of self-harm behavior.

Methods: A total of 318 pupils aged 14-15 years completed measures on history of direct self-injurious behavior (D-SIB), emotional regulation, depression, and anxiety at two time points across a six-month period.

Results: Of 13% (42) of participants reported their first episode of D-SIB over the six-month period and reported increased difficulties with emotional regulation prior to initial D-SIB. Regression analyses found significant associations for emotional regulation and specifically lack of emotional clarity prior to first episode of D-SIB. Lack of emotional awareness and difficulties with impulse control was significantly associated in those with ongoing D-SIB.

Conclusions: Prior to first episode of D-SIB, young people may experience difficulty regulating emotions, a difficulty which appears less pronounced following their engagement with D-SIB. Our findings implicate difficulties in the early evaluation and understanding of emotions which may later impair attempts at emotion modulation and increase risk of D-SIB. Such findings might help inform early identification of adolescents at risk of initial D-SIB.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

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