Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nonsuicidal Self-Injury Often Begins in Younger Children

A new study of 665 young people in the third, sixth, and ninth grades finds patterns of nonsuicidal self-injury that vary by age and gender. Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is the term for intentional, non-fatal, self-inflicted damage caused by cutting, hitting, burning, or excessive rubbing. Reported rates range between 7 percent and 24 percent of adolescents; however, little was known about rates among younger children.

Now the new study finds that even third graders engage in NSSI, with boys and girls doing so at about the same rate (7 percent to 8 percent). By sixth grade, boys (6 percent) are far more likely than girls (2 percent) to harm themselves. However, by ninth grade, those proportions are sharply reversed, with 19 percent of girls and just 5 percent of boys engaging in NSSI, wrote Andrea Barrocas, M.A., of the University of Denver, and colleagues in the July Pediatrics. The researchers urged both pediatricians and hospital emergency room personnel to fully evaluate cases of NSSI to help prevent negative physical and mental health outcomes.

To read a comprehensive review of how psychotherapy can successfully treat psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents, see the new book from American Psychiatric Publishing, Cognitive-BehaviorTherapy for Children and Adolescents.
(Image: Miroslav Dziadkowiec/


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