Assessing the Self-Concept Clarity in Reported Triggers of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Open Access
Mc Morrow, Aidan Henry
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kenneth Levy, Thesis Supervisor
  • Frank Gerard Hillary, Honors Advisor
  • Non-Suicidal Self-Injury
  • Self-Harm
  • Self-Injury
  • Self-Concept
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
The purpose of this study was to examine precipitants of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) in undergraduate students. Recent research has found that as rates of NSSI increase, reports of clarity in one’s sense of self and identity have decreased. Defined as how clearly and stably one’s beliefs about oneself are defined, research suggests that self-concept clarity is an important predictor for suicidal urges and NSSI. The present study aimed to assess the relationship between self-concept clarity, the ability for participants to identify a precipitant for self-harm, and the associated markers of severity of self-injury including methods used, physical state following self-harm, and necessity of medical intervention. It was predicted that individuals with poor sense of self will report more diffuse reasons for self-harm rather than a concrete precipitating event and will be more likely to engage in riskier self-harm with more severe outcomes. While neither of these hypotheses were supported by the study findings, results showed that individuals with poorer self-concept were more likely to engage in NSSI on the different day as the reported precipitating event and were more likely to have sought medical consultation following the self-injury. Furthermore, the concreteness of the precipitant was found to be associated with two markers of NSSI severity, namely dissociation occurring after the initiation of NSSI, and the number of cuts within one NSSI episode when the participant indicated cutting as their primary method of NSSI.