Digital Self-Harm and Suicidality Among Adolescents

Child and Adolescent Mental Health


Research on digital self-harm – the anonymous online posting, sending, or otherwise sharing of hurtful content about oneself – is still in its infancy. Yet unexplored is whether digital self-harm is related to suicidal ideation or suicide attempts.


In the current study, survey data were collected in 2019 from a national sample of 4972 American middle and high school students (Mage = 14.5; 50% female). Logistic regression analysis was used to assess whether lifetime engagement in two different indicators of digital self-harm was associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts within the past year.


Logistic regression analysis showed that engagement in digital self-harm was associated with a five- to sevenfold increase in the likelihood of reporting suicidal thoughts and a nine- to 15-fold increase in the likelihood of a suicide attempt.


Results suggest a connection between digital self-harm and suicidality. As such, health professionals must screen for digital self-harm to address underlying mental health problems among youth that may occur prior to or alongside suicidality, and parents/caregivers must convey to children that they are available to dialog, support, and assist with the root issues that may eventually manifest as digital self-harm.

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (in press). Digital Self-Harm and Suicidality Among Adolescents. OnlineFirst in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

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