Nonsuicidal Self-Injury Among African American and Hispanic Adolescents and Young Adults: a Systematic Review

Prev Sci. 2021 Apr;22(3):367-377. doi: 10.1007/s11121-020-01147-x.


While African American and Hispanic adolescents and young adults living in the USA are exposed to myriad stressors that may increase their risk for mental health difficulties, few studies have examined nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) among these youth. The purpose of this systematic review was to critically examine and synthesize current literature on NSSI among these understudied youth. Using multiple search terms related to NSSI, race/ethnicity, and developmental stage, electronic literature searches of PubMed, PsychINFO, and Google Scholar databases retrieved 3036 relevant articles published in the English language between 2000 and 2018; manual reference checks yielded an additional 17 articles. Ultimately, a total of 52 full-text studies were assessed for eligibility, and 15 articles were included in the present review. Although the majority of studies reported higher prevalence of NSSI among non-Hispanic White youth, evidence suggests that African American males are also at high risk of engaging in self-harm. Emotional dysregulation emerged as a common risk factor, while social support and feelings of connection were protective for some African American and Hispanic youth. Although racism and discrimination were not linked to NSSI in the reviewed studies, this remains an important area of future research for prevention and intervention efforts.

Keywords: NSSI; Racial/ethnic minority; Self-harm; Suicidal behavior; Youth.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Black or African American*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Injurious Behavior* / epidemiology
  • Young Adult