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Prev Med. 2007 Nov;45(5):392-6. Epub 2007 May 21.

Online behavior of youth who engage in self-harm provides clues for preventive intervention.

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Crimes against Children Research Center, Family Research Lab, University of New Hampshire, 10 West Edge Drive, Suite 106, Durham, NH 03824-3586, USA.



To explore the Internet use and interpersonal interactions of youth reporting deliberate self-harm as defined by any non-fatal act, regardless of intention.


The Second Youth Internet Safety Survey is a nationally representative telephone survey of 1500 Internet users (ages 10-17) in the United States, conducted March to June 2005.


Youth reporting deliberate self-harm in the past 6 months (3%) were significantly more likely than other youth to have a sexual screen name or to talk with people known only online about sex (35% versus 5%) and to use chat rooms (57% versus 29%). All youth were equally likely to talk online with people known in person, yet youth engaging in deliberate self-harm were significantly more likely also to have a close relationship with someone met online (38% versus 10%). Three quarters (76%) of youth reporting self-harm used instant messaging.


Findings suggest that youth who engage in self-harm may be more likely to engage in online behaviors that have the potential to place them in risky situations. Programs aimed at preventing deliberate self-harm should consider adding chat room and instant messaging to their telephone hotline capabilities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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