Clinical Edge

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Potential Risk Factors for Nonsuicidal Self-Injury

Psychiatry Res; ePub 2017 Nov 30; Fox, et al

Findings of a recent study provide support that erosion of barriers to nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) (eg, aversion to self-injurious stimuli, decreased self-worth) may facilitate continued engagement in these dangerous behaviors. This study investigated diminished aversion toward self-injury (ie, NSSI, suicide/death-related stimuli) and self-criticism as unique NSSI risk factors. After terminating a treatment study, 154 adults with a recent and frequent NSSI history completed self-report and computer-based measures of psychopathology, implicit and explicit self-criticism, and implicit aversion to NSSI and death related stimuli. Participants were then contacted 4 weeks later to test factors predicting NSSI frequency over this follow-up period. Researchers found:

  • Diminished aversion toward NSSI stimuli and self-criticism significantly predicted NSSI 4 weeks later.
  • These effects were unique from other theoretically important predictors, such as past week NSSI frequency and number of NSSI methods employed.


Fox KR, Robiero JD, Kleiman EM, Hooley JM, Nock MK, Franklin JC. Affect toward the self and self-injury stimuli as potential risk factors for nonsuicidal self-injury. [Published online ahead of print November 30, 2017]. Psychiatry Res. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2017.11.083.

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