Unanswered questions in adolescent self-harm

A closer look at impulsivity

Sarah Stanford, Michael Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Research to date suggests that as many as 12-15% of young people engage in selfharm. Elevated levels of impulsivity have been found amongst adolescents who selfharm; however, this association requires further research, particularly relating to gender differences. Therefore the present study sought to clarify the role of impulsivity in adolescent self-harm in a community sample (n = 1111). School and university students completed a questionnaire which encompassed a broad range of psychological domains with selected social and environmental factors. The study confirms prior research suggesting that adolescents who self-harm are more impulsive than adolescents who do not self-harm. In addition, although there is no overall gender difference in impulsivity, the present study found that among adolescents who have self-harmed recently, males were substantially more impulsive than females. These findings have important clinical implications, as impulsivity has been associated with increased risk for repetitive selfharm and completed suicide.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPersonality down under
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives from Australia
EditorsSimon Boag
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781604567946
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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    Stanford, S., & Jones, M. (2008). Unanswered questions in adolescent self-harm: A closer look at impulsivity. In S. Boag (Ed.), Personality down under: Perspectives from Australia (pp. 177-188). New York: Nova Science Publishers.