Deliberate self-harm in adolescence: a cross-sectional study




adolescent, risk factor, self-injurious behavior


Introduction: The high prevalence of deliberate self-harm (DSH) and its strong association with suicide make the condition a natural target for intervention to prevent harmful consequences for adolescents. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of DSH and to characterize DSH patterns and associated risk factors in a sample of adolescents.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted by applying a questionnaire based on the “Lifestyle and Coping Questionnaire” adapted to the Portuguese language. Adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years attending the outpatient clinic of a secondary-care hospital were invited to participate. Data were analyzed by descriptive, bivariate, and regression analysis using SPSS v.25 software.
Results: A total of 159 eligible responses were obtained from adolescents with a mean age of 15 years. Of the 25.8% who reported having engaged in DSH, the majority (61%) did so more than once, and the same percentage did not seek help. A statistically significant association was found between DSH and befriending less easily, having a history of bullying, and seeking online information on how to self-harm. A significantly higher risk of self-harm was found among adolescents who had experienced a variety of negative life events (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.47, confidence interval [CI] 1.231-1.1763; p<0.01), whereas having no health problems (aOR 0.356, CI 0.13-0.969; p=0.04) and not using drugs (aOR 0.087, CI 0.012-0.633; p=0.016) were protective factors.
Conclusions: DSH is a common but often overshadowed problem in adolescents. The findings of this study highlight the need for careful assessment of adolescents with better screening for DSH and associated risk factors.


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How to Cite

Mendes J, Vieira Martins M, Azevedo I, Patrício P, Ferreira S. Deliberate self-harm in adolescence: a cross-sectional study. REVNEC [Internet]. 2024Apr.5 [cited 2024Jul.15];33(1):12-20. Available from:



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