Past and recent deliberate self-harm: Emotion and coping strategy differences



Only limited information on nonsuicidal deliberate self-harm behavior among nonclinical populations is available, and it is unclear whether coping and emotional difficulties remain among those with a past history of self-harm behavior. The purpose of this study is to examine emotions and coping strategies among three nonclinical groups with a recent, past, and no history of nonsuicidal deliberate self-harm behavior. College students completed self-report measures of self-harm behavior, suicidal thoughts, emotional dispositions, and coping strategies. Contrary to expectations, there were few differences in coping strategies among the three groups ( p > .0033). Those with a recent history (n = 23; in the last 12 months) and past history (n = 32; more than 12 months ago) of self-harm behavior reported greater levels of negative emotion (e.g., hostility, guilt, sadness) than those who have never self-harmed (n = 161; p < .0045). This indicates that although self-harm behavior had discontinued (>12 months ago), negative emotion differences were present, and both recent and past self-harmers merit concern in managing their negative emotions to lower their risk for future difficulties. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 63: 791–803, 2007.