Correlates of suicide attempts among self-injurers: a meta-analysis

Clin Psychol Rev. 2014 Jun;34(4):282-97. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2014.03.005. Epub 2014 Apr 2.


Suicide attempts (SAs) are common among those who engage in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). It is therefore important to determine which suicide risk factors are most predictive of SA among those who self-injure. Toward this aim, we conducted a systematic review of studies examining predictors of SA history among self-injurers. A total of 52 empirical articles provided data comparing self-injurers with and without SA. From these studies we focused our meta-analysis on the 20 variables that were evaluated with respect to SA history in five or more different samples. The strongest correlate of SA history was suicidal ideation. After suicidal ideation, the strongest predictors of SA history were NSSI frequency, number of NSSI methods, and hopelessness. Additional, moderate predictors of SA history included Borderline Personality Disorder, impulsivity, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the NSSI method of cutting, and depression. Demographic characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, and age, were weakly associated with SA history. Notably, some oft-cited risk factors for SA displayed small or negligible associations with SA among self-injurers, including histories of sexual and physical abuse, anxiety, substance use, and eating disorders. Findings have implications for conceptual models of the NSSI-SA relationship and the evaluation of suicide risk among self-injuring populations.

Keywords: Attempted suicide; Meta-analysis; Review; Self-harm; Self-injury; Suicide.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*