Nonsuicidal Self-Injury of Adolescents

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Abstract

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is more common in adolescent and young adult populations than in the past. NSSI is typically used to deal with distressing negative affective states, especially anger and depression, and mixed emotional states. Pediatricians; primary care, family medicine, and emergency room physicians; and mental health professionals are faced with the charge of responding to NSSI behaviors among patients. Physicians in family medicine, pediatrics, and primary care settings play an essential role in initiating the beginning step in the treatment process for those who self-injure. All providers can strengthen the care provided to those who engage in NSSI via assessing the risk accurately, understanding the functions of the behavior, and assisting the patient in connecting with treatment. This article provides medical and mental health professionals with an overview of intervention strategies that may be useful when counseling adolescents and their families. In addition, areas for continued research are discussed.

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