Predictors of non-suicidal and suicidal self-injurious behaviours, among adolescents and young adults in urban India

Asian J Psychiatr. 2017 Oct:29:123-128. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2017.04.024. Epub 2017 May 6.


Background: The complex intersections between non-suicidal self-injurious (NSSI) behaviours; like cutting, burning or self-hitting, and suicide attempts, are an important domain of enquiry among vulnerable adolescents and young adults. A cross-sectional survey in urban schools and colleges assessed the rates of self-injurious behaviour among Indian adolescents and young adults. Predictors of NSSI and of self-injurious behaviours with associated suicidal intent, were also examined.

Participants and methods: The sample comprised 1571 male and female students, from 19 private and government aided high schools, pre-university colleges and undergraduate colleges in an urban city in South India. Participants completed the Functional Assessment of Self-Mutilation which assesses the methods, characteristics and functions of self-injurious acts in the past 12 months. The measures of psychopathology included the Youth Self-Report and the Young-Adult Self-Report.

Results and conclusion: The results indicated that rate of NSSI was 33.8%, with minor forms of self-injury reported more often (19.4%) than the moderate/severe forms (14.6%). A smaller proportion (6.8%) reported self-injurious acts with associated suicidal intent. Certain self-injury characteristics and levels of internalizing and externalizing problems differentiated self-injuring youth with and without suicidal intent. Logistic regression analyses identified predictors of any self-injurious behaviour and of self-injury associated with suicidal intent. The implications for assessment and intervention frameworks for self-injuring youth are discussed.

Keywords: Externalizing problems; India; Internalizing problems; Non-suicidal self-injury; Suicidal intent; Youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult