Category: Suicide and Self-Injury

Symposium

Characteristics of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury Among Military Personnel and Dependents

Saturday, November 18
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom E, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Self-Injury | Military
Presentation Type: Symposium

Little is known about the prevalence and characteristics of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) among military personnel and dependents. Given the high rate of suicide in the United States Armed Forces (Smolenski et al., 2014) and increasingly strong evidence linking nonsuicidal self injury and suicidal thoughts and behaviors (Klonsky et al., 2013; Ribeiro et al 2016), understanding the characteristics of NSSI in this population is essential.


Participants include 804 service members and dependents recruited from primary care clinics at two military installations. They completed an online version of the Self Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors Interview (SITBI; Nock, 2007). The prevalence, methods, onset, duration, recency, and future likelihood of NSSI, as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors were compared across three groups: the Navy, the Air Force, and dependents. Due to widely found sex differences in NSSI and sex disparities across participant groups, analyses were separated by sex. NSSI was more common among women (22%), than men (9%) and more common among Active Duty women (27%) compared to Dependent women (13%). Cutting (75%) and hitting (57%) were the most common methods used across groups and sex. There were no differences by group in age of NSSI onset nor duration of NSSI. However, women had a younger age of onset, with 75% reporting first NSSI before age 17, compared to 46% of men, and a longer duration of NSSI behavior than men. Nineteen percent of those with lifetime NSSI reported past-year NSSI. There were no differences by sex or group in recency of NSSI nor in the predicted likelihood of future NSSI behavior. Regarding the relationship between suicide and NSSI, results were consistent across groups; 81% of those reporting NSSI also reported suicide ideation, regardless of sex. Across groups, 33% of injurers reported a suicide attempt. There was a non-significant trend (p = .09) that more men (42%) reported attempts than women (26%).


Results suggest that characteristics of NSSI are more similar than different across the Navy and Air Force. Additionally, many of the gendered NSSI patterns found in civilian samples were mirrored in this military sample.

Alexis May

Post-Doctoral Associate
University of Utah

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