Proximal factors associated with non-suicidal self-injury in daily life

Date created: 
Non-suicidal self-injury
Risk factors, protective factors

The primary objective of this research was to examine factors that predict urges for non- suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and the transition from urges to NSSI behaviour. Specifically, I examined the types of stressful events, negative emotions, and cognitive appraisals that increase or decrease the likelihood of NSSI urges and behaviours. Participants who reported NSSI at least twice in the last month (N = 55) completed online daily diaries to report on their experiences, emotions, and thoughts over 14 days. Interpersonal stressors were more strongly associated with NSSI urges than were non-interpersonal stressors. Contrary to hypotheses, low and high-arousal negative emotions did not significantly differ in their association with NSSI urges and behaviours. Maladaptive cognitive patterns such as rumination, catastrophizing, and self-blame were all positively associated with NSSI urges, and rumination and catastrophizing were also positively associated with NSSI behaviours. Conversely, distress tolerance and emotion- regulation self-efficacy were negatively associated with NSSI urges and behaviours. Furthermore, emotion regulation self-efficacy was the only factor significantly associated with lower likelihood of NSSI behaviours on days when NSSI urges were present. These findings suggest the importance of specific contextual, emotional, and cognitive factors in future research aiming to better understand NSSI risk and suggests particular targets for consideration in efforts to refine and improve treatment.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Senior supervisor: 
Alexander Chapman
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.