School Psychology Forum

Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Our Schools, From Research to Practice: Introduction to the Special Issue

Nancy Heath & Stephen P. Lewis

Nonsuicidal Self Injury, pp. 89-92

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Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) refers to the deliberate destruction of one's body tissue (e.g., cutting, burning, bruising) without conscious suicidal intent (Nock & Favazza, 2009) and has a lifetime prevalence of 12–25% among adolescents, with 4–7% reporting ongoing NSSI (see Whitlock & Rodham in this issue for a full review). Approximately one quarter of these youth repeatedly self-injure (Nixon & Heath, 2009). Youth NSSI is associated with myriad difficulties, including physical injuries, scarring, psychiatric difficulties (e.g., anxiety, depression), and elevated suicide risk (Alfonso & Dedrick, 2010; Nock & Favazza, 2009; Nock, Joiner, Gordon, Lloyd- Richardson, & Prinstein, 2006). Moreover, in the last decade, NSSI has emerged as a significant issue in school settings (e.g., Heath, Toste, & Beettam, 2006; Muelenkamp, Williams, Gutierrez, & Claes, 2009; Toste & Heath, 2010). It has been suggested that a majority of school mental health professionals, including school psychologists, counselors, and social workers encounter students who engage in NSSI (e.g., Carroll, Olwig, & Vasquez, 2011; Duggan, Heath, Toste, & Ross, 2011; Roberts-Dobie & Donatelle, 2007). For example, in a recent study 92% of school counsellors reported working with a student who had self-injured (Duggan et al., 2011).