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#cutting: Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) on Instagram

  • R. C. Brown (a1), T. Fischer (a2), A. D. Goldwich (a3), F. Keller (a1), R. Young (a4) and P. L. Plener (a1)...
Abstract
Background

Social media presents an important means for social interaction, especially among adolescents, with Instagram being the most popular platform in this age-group. Pictures and communication about non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) can frequently be found on the internet.

Methods

During 4 weeks in April 2016, n = 2826 (from n = 1154 accounts) pictures which directly depicted wounds on Instagram were investigated. Those pictures, associated comments, and user accounts were independently rated for content. Associations between characteristics of pictures and comments as well as weekly and daily trends of posting behavior were analyzed.

Results

Most commonly, pictures depicted wounds caused by cutting on arms or legs and were rated as mild or moderate injuries. Pictures with increasing wound grades and those depicting multiple methods of NSSI generated elevated amounts of comments. While most comments were neutral or empathic with some offering help, few comments were hostile. Pictures were mainly posted in the evening hours, with a small peak in the early morning. While there was a slight peak of pictures being posted on Sundays, postings were rather evenly spread across the week.

Conclusions

Pictures of NSSI are frequently posted on Instagram. Social reinforcement might play a role in the posting of more severe NSSI pictures. Social media platforms need to take appropriate measures for preventing online social contagion.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: R. C. Brown, M.Sc., Department for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Ulm, Steinhoevelstr. 5, 89075 Ulm, Germany. (Email: rebecca.brown@uniklinik-ulm.de)
Linked references
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

TG Baker , SP Lewis (2013). Responses to online photographs of non-suicidal self-injury: a thematic analysis. Archives of Suicide Research 17, 223235.

K Bresin , M Schoenleber (2015). Gender differences in the prevalence of nonsuicidal self-injury: a meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review 38, 5564.

S Jarvi , B Jackson , L Swenson , H Crawford (2013). The impact of social contagion on non-suicidal self-injury: a review of the literature. Archives of Suicide Research 17, 119.

SP Lewis , TG Baker (2011). The possible risks of self-injury web sites: a content analysis. Archives of Suicide Research 15, 390396.

SP Lewis , NL Heath , JM St Denis , R Noble (2011). The scope of nonsuicidal self-injury on YouTube. Pediatrics 127, e552e557.

SP Lewis , Y Seko (2016). A double-edged sword: a review of benefits and risks of online nonsuicidal self-injury activities. Journal of Clinical Psychology 72, 249262.

MK Nock (2008). Actions speak louder than words: An elaborated theoretical model of the social functions of self-injury and other harmful behaviors. Applied and Preventive Psychology 12, 159168

PL Plener , G Libal , F Keller , JM Fegert , JJ Muehlenkamp (2009). An international comparison of adolescent non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicide attempts: Germany and the USA. Psychological Medicine, 39, 15491558.

B Turner , RJ Cobb , KL Gratz , AL Chapman (2016). The role of interpersonal conflict and perceived social support in nonsuicidal self-injury in daily life. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 125, 588598.

J Whitlock , W Lader , K Conterio (2007). The internet and self-injury: what psychotherapists should know. Journal of Clinical Psychology 63, 11351143.

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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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