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J Clin Psychiatry. 2012 Jun;73(6):813-20. doi: 10.4088/JCP.11m07196.

Familial and individual correlates of nonsuicidal self-injury in the offspring of mood-disordered parents.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



To examine the demographic and clinical correlates of nonsuicidal self-injury.


This is a cross-sectional analysis of a longitudinal cohort study of the familial transmission of suicidal behavior, conducted at referral centers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and New York, New York. Participants included 291 probands with DSM-IV mood disorder, one-half of whom had attempted suicide, and 507 of their offspring. The primary outcome assessed was nonsuicidal self-injury in offspring. Psychosocial correlates of nonsuicidal self-injury were determined by comparing personal, parental, and familial characteristics of offspring with and without nonsuicidal self-injury, assessed using a variety of interview and self-report measures at study entry. Data were collected between August 1998 and August 2007.


Of 507 offspring, 7.7% (n=39) had engaged in nonsuicidal self-injury. The most salient correlates of nonsuicidal self-injury on multivariate logistic regression were diagnosis of depression (OR=3.78, P<.001) and greater aggression (OR=1.07, P=.01), depressive symptoms (OR=1.59, P=.009), and suicidal ideation (OR=1.24, P=.004). Parental history of abuse, as well as family histories of suicide attempt and nonsuicidal self-injury, was noncontributory.


Nonsuicidal self-injury is associated with the presence and severity of depression, suicidal ideation, and behavioral dysregulation. On multivariate analysis, only individual predictors remained significant; this result is distinct from that for correlates of suicide attempt reported in this sample, for which familial variables played a significant role.

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