The Role of Function in the Severity of Non-suicidal Self-Injury

Michelle Katherine Hiner, Fordham University


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a term used to describe behaviors a person engages in that damages their own tissue without suicidal intent. These behaviors are most prevalent in adolescence and emerging adulthood, a stage of development lasting from approximately 18 to 26 years of age. It has been established that NSSI serves many different functions, and that the severity of the behavior increases over time. This study aims to determine analyze the most common functions of NSSI, the methods used by function, and the relationship between function and the medically-rated severity of injuries in emerging adults. To obtain data, an online survey was distributed across several Reddit forums. Respondents were asked questions regarding the functions and methods of NSSI as it related to their experiences, as well as questions regarding the objective characteristics of their most recent self-inflicted injury. Data was analyzed using a series of t-tests, analyses of variance, and linear mixed model tests. Results showed the most commonly endorsed function of NSSI was affect regulation, the most common method was cutting across all functions, and no significant relationship was detected between NSSI function and medical injury severity. However, significant differences were found in the mean number of methods used per function, which may indicate differences in NSSI severity by function according to other measures. These results add to the growing body of NSSI literature and inform future research on this topic.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Hiner, Michelle Katherine, "The Role of Function in the Severity of Non-suicidal Self-Injury" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI29168746.