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Sporadic and recurrent non-suicidal self-injury before age 14 and incident onset of psychiatric disorders by 17 years: prospective cohort study

  • Paul O. Wilkinson (a1), Tianyou Qiu (a2), Sharon Neufeld (a3), Peter B. Jones (a1) and Ian M. Goodyer (a1)...
Abstract
Background

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is highly prevalent in adolescents and may be a behavioural marker for emergent mental illnesses.

Aims

To determine whether sporadic or recurrent NSSI up to the age of 14 years predicted increased risk of new onset of psychiatric disorder in the subsequent 3 years, independent of psychiatric symptoms and social risk factors.

Method

In total, 945 individuals aged 14 years with no past/present history of mental illness completed a clinical interview and completed a questionnaire about NSSI at the ages of 14 and 17 years.

Results

Recurrent NSSI at baseline predicted total disorders, depression and eating disorders. Sporadic baseline NSSI predicted new onset of anxiety disorders only.

Conclusions

NSSI (especially recurrent NSSI) in the early-adolescent years is a behavioural marker of newly emerging mental illnesses. Professionals should treat both recurrent and sporadic NSSI as important risk factors, and prevention strategies could be targeted at this vulnerable group.

Declaration of interest

None.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Paul O. Wilkinson, MD MRCPsych, University of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough National Health Service Foundation Trust, Douglas House, 18b Trumpington Road, Cambridge, CB2 8AH. Email: pow12@cam.ac.uk
References
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Sporadic and recurrent non-suicidal self-injury before age 14 and incident onset of psychiatric disorders by 17 years: prospective cohort study

  • Paul O. Wilkinson (a1), Tianyou Qiu (a2), Sharon Neufeld (a3), Peter B. Jones (a1) and Ian M. Goodyer (a1)...
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