Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and E-Communities: Investigating the Influence of Online Disinhibition

Vincent Patrick Corcoran, Fordham University


Use of the internet and social networking sites has increased exponentially over the last few decades, with adolescents and young adults using the internet most often compared to other age groups. Additionally, adolescents and young adults have the highest prevalence rates of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), a behavior that has been demonstrated to significantly increase an individual’s risk for suicide attempt. Online communication of NSSI has been called a “double-edged sword”, with evidence for both risks and benefits to partaking in such discussion. To provide a greater understanding into these risks and benefits, this study explored how online disinhibition might impact online communication of NSSI and NSSI frequency. Participants (n = 200), recruited online from NSSI e-communities, completed measures related to their degree of online NSSI communication, levels of online disinhibition, online perceived social support, and time spent online when stressed. It was hypothesized that those more actively communicating about NSSI online would be higher in online disinhibition as compared to peers who were less actively communicating. Secondly, it was hypothesized that online disinhibition would predict NSSI frequency and online perceived social support would moderate this relationship. Results indicated that those who discussed NSSI online with others had higher online disinhibition on average when compared to individuals who had only read about NSSI online. However, online disinhibition did not predict NSSI frequency in the overall study sample, and online perceived social support was not found to moderate this relationship. Nonetheless, when isolating highest degree NSSI communicators, toxic online disinhibition was found to predict lower NSSI frequency. These findings and additional exploratory analyses are discussed. Overall, the current study demonstrates that online variables, such as online disinhibition, can impact NSSI frequency and warrant future investigation.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Corcoran, Vincent Patrick, "Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and E-Communities: Investigating the Influence of Online Disinhibition" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10928697.