Appreciating complexity in adolescent self-harm risk factors

psychological profiling in a longitudinal community sample

Sarah Stanford*, Michael P. Jones, Jennifer L. Hudson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Past research identifies a number of risk factors for adolescent self-harm, but often fails to account for overlap between these factors. This study investigated the underlying, broader concepts by identifying different psychological profiles among adolescents. We then compared new self-harm rates over a six-month period across different psychological profiles. Australian high school students (n = 326, 68.1% female) completed a questionnaire including a broad range of psychological and socioenvironmental risk and protective factors. Non-hierarchical cluster analysis produced six groups with different psychological profiles at baseline and rate of new self-harm at follow-up. The lowest rate was 1.4% in a group that appeared psychologically healthy; the highest rate was 37.5% in a group that displayed numerous psychological difficulties. Four groups with average self-harm had varied psychological profiles including low impulsivity, anxiety, impulsivity, and poor use of positive coping strategies. Identifying multiple profiles with distinct psychological characteristics can improve detection, guide prevention, and tailor treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916-931
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • adolescence
  • psychological profiles
  • risk factors
  • self-harm

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