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An exploration of the relationship between interpersonal needs and nonsuicidal self-injury in adolescents.

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Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) has become a worrying phenomenon amongst adolescents worldwide, emphasising the need for increasing public health awareness and exploration of the factors associated with this behaviour. The current study is motivated by the need to explore the contagion of self-injury. The Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide by Joiner posits that suicide ideation occurs in the presence of two interpersonal needs constructs: thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness, and that the risk of a lethal suicide attempt occurs in the joint presence of suicide ideation and the capability to enact NSSI. The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between the interpersonal needs constructs of Joiner’s theory and NSSI. A cross-sectional convenience sampling method was utilised to obtain a sample of 216 adolescents, who were recruited from three schools in the greater Durban area. Binary logistic regression analyses were performed to establish whether a relationship existed between the interpersonal needs constructs and NSSI. The results indicated a positive relationship between perceived burdensomeness and the occurrence of NSSI in this sample, thereby illuminating thwarted interpersonal needs as a contributor to the occurrence of NSSI in adolescents. It is hoped that the findings of this study will further the understanding of this perplexing behaviour.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.