Prospective Prediction of First Onset of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Adolescent Girls

Molly A. Gromatsky, Shuyao He, Greg Perlman, Daniel N. Klein, Roman Kotov, Monika A. Waszczuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: Adolescent nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a significant risk factor for suicidal behavior and an important clinical marker of psychopathology. NSSI is especially common in adolescent girls. A number of psychosocial correlates of adolescent NSSI have been identified, including problems characterized by disinhibition and negative affectivity. However, it is unknown whether these characteristics prospectively predict first-onset NSSI, limiting our understanding of its etiology and prevention. The current study addresses this gap in the literature. Method: Participants in the Adolescent Development of Emotion and Personality Traits (ADEPT) project at Stony Brook University who had not experienced NSSI at baseline (462 girls, mean age = 14.39 years, SD = 0.62 years) completed baseline measures of hypothesized risk factors related to problems with disinhibition and negative affectivity, including adolescent psychopathology, personality and clinical traits, and parental psychopathology. First onset of NSSI was monitored at 9-month intervals by in-person and telephone interviews over the next 36 months. Results: There were 42 first onsets of NSSI (9.1%) in the 3 years since baseline. First-onset NSSI was independently predicted by adolescents’ low conscientiousness, high avoidance, and parental substance abuse at baseline. The composite risk index predicting first-onset NSSI demonstrated good accuracy for identifying girls who will start self-injuring (area under the curve = 0.78, sensitivity = 0.85, specificity = 0.57). Conclusion: These results highlight the role of disinhibition and avoidance in the development of NSSI. The risk index predicting NSSI onset may help to guide the design and application of novel interventions to prevent this condition in adolescent girls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1057
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescence
  • avoidance
  • nonsuicidal self-injury
  • personality
  • prediction


Dive into the research topics of 'Prospective Prediction of First Onset of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Adolescent Girls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this