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An international comparison of adolescent non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicide attempts: Germany and the USA

  • P. L. Plener (a1), G. Libal (a2), F. Keller (a1), J. M. Fegert (a1) and J. J. Muehlenkamp (a3)...
Abstract
Background

This study examined the prevalence of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), suicide attempts, suicide threats and suicidal ideation in a German school sample and compared the rates with a similar sample of adolescents from the midwestern USA by using cross-nationally validated assessment tools.

Method

Data were provided from 665 adolescents (mean age 14.8 years, s.d.=0.66, range 14–17 years) in a school setting. Students completed the Self-Harm Behavior Questionnaire (SHBQ), the Ottawa Self-Injury Inventory (OSI) and a German version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies–Depression Scale (CES-D).

Results

A quarter of the participants (25.6%) endorsed at least one act of NSSI in their life, and 9.5% of those students answered that they had hurt themselves repetitively (more than four times). Forty-three (6.5%) of the students reported a history of a suicide attempt. No statistically significant differences were observed between the German and US samples in terms of self-injury or suicidal behaviors.

Conclusions

By using the same validated assessment tools, no differences were found in the prevalence and characteristics of self-injury and suicidal behaviors between adolescents from Germany and the USA. Thus, it seems that NSSI has to be understood as worldwide phenomenon, at least in Western cultures.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr P. L. Plener, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Ulm, Steinhoevelstr. 5, D-89075 Ulm, Germany. (Email: paul.plener@uniklinik-ulm.de)
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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