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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2012 Jul;82(3):291-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01167.x.

Nonsuicidal self-injury in an ethnically diverse college sample.

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Wayne State University, Psychology Clinic, Rackham Bldg., 60 Farnsworth, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


Self-report data pertaining to Nonsuicidal Self-Injury (NSSI; e.g., cutting) were collected from 5,691 undergraduates at a Midwestern urban university. Consistent with the small literature on NSSI among college students, 12.8% of the sample indicated having engaged in NSSI at least once (3.4% in the past year). Women and younger students were at slightly higher risk. Important ethnic differences were found, as Caucasians and individuals self-identifying as Multiracial were at especially high risk for a history of NSSI, whereas Arab Americans and African Americans had particularly low rates. Further, links between NSSI and religion were found, such that participants with stronger self-reported religious convictions had the lowest rates of NSSI. Those who self-described as Atheist, Agnostic, or Nonbeliever were several times more likely to have engaged in NSSI (31.3%), while Muslims (7.4%) and Baptists (6.3%) had relatively low rates. Multivariate analyses revealed that ethnic differences in NSSI could not be accounted for by religious differences. Processes that may explain the associations between NSSI and ethnic affiliation and religion are discussed.

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