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Predicting Deliberate Self-Harm in Adolescents: A Six Month Prospective Study


  • This study was funded by Choose Life Stirling (National Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan for Scotland) and University of Stirling, Scotland.

Suicidal Behavior Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA; E-mail:


Few studies have investigated the extent to which psychosocial/psychological factors are associated with the prediction of deliberate self-harm (DSH) among adolescents. In this study, 737 pupils aged 15–16 years completed a lifestyle and coping survey at time one and 500 were followed up six months later. Six point two percent of the respondents (n = 31) reported an act of DSH between Time 1 and Time 2. In multivariate analyses, worries about sexual orientation, history of sexual abuse, family DSH, anxiety, and self-esteem were associated with repeat DSH during the course of the study, but history of sexual abuse was the only factor predictive of first-time DSH. The findings suggest that school-based programs focused on how young people cope with psychosocial stressors may offer promise.