Prevalence of self-harm thoughts in UK preadolescents is low

  • 31.12.2019

  • Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

Why this matters

  • Although the prevalence of self-injurious thoughts was low, children who reported these thoughts had significantly higher odds of having depression, anxiety, and oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder.

Study design

  • This study assessed self-injurious thoughts and behaviors in a nationally representative sample of preadolescent individuals (age,
  • Funding: National Institute of Mental Health.

Key results

  • Results among preadolescent children:
    • 2.18% pure ideators (self-injurious thoughts without history of behavior).
    • 0.80% children with past-month self-injurious behaviors.
    • 2.41% children with lifetime self-injury.
  • Sociodemographic factors associated with current self-injurious thoughts (aORs) were:
    • Age: 1.22 (P<.001>
    • Male sex: 1.35 (P=.02).
    • Both parents being unemployed: 1.61 (P=.003).
    • Poor parental psychiatric functioning: 1.14 (P<.001>
    • Depression: 7.87 (P<.001>
    • Anxiety: 4.32 (P<.001>
    • Oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder: 2.45 (P<.001>
  • Being a member of an underrepresented ethnicity was not related to self-injurious thoughts (aOR, 0.81; P=.30) or behaviors (aOR, 0.67; P=.07).

Limitations

  • Only preadolescent age groups were included.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm