Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a behavioral health problem within the broader risk category of self-directed violence and closely associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD) (American Psychiatric, 2012). There are several types of NSSI behaviors such as cutting; which are used as a coping mechanism by individuals to relieve distress. These methods of coping are private and silent and according to experts in the field, this is a fast growing behavioral problem among adolescents. Researchers Muehlenkamp, Walsh, & McDade (2010) approximate the life time rates of at least one NSSI act among adolescents in high school to be 23%. The primary purpose of this exploratory thesis is to analyze six state level Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) databases for prevalence and gender frequency rates among adolescents (14-18 years old) in school-based environments (high school) and secondly, to expose the efforts towards prevention of NSSI within these environments. Research within NSSI among adolescents in school-based environments addresses this behavioral problem as a silent school crisis' which is difficult to track because self-reporting of the behaviors varies and often goes unreported (Moya, 2007). Few studies internationally and nationally within school-based environments have been conducted; they show prevalence for NSSI among adolescents in these environments ranging from approximately 7% to 37% depending on the geographic region. Many experts within the field of NSSI state that these behaviors are demonstrated equally by males and females; however, other studies state that females are consistently more likely than males to participate in NSSI. This study utilizes secondary data gathered from a national survey to establish prevalence and frequency rates of NSSI among adolescents in school based environments. Data were collected from state level databases from the departments of health and education in Arizona, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Vermont. The researcher synthesized YRBS facts, questionnaires, and results data into matrices for analysis. The researcher concluded that the majority of adolescents in school-based environments do not engage in non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors; however, there is a substantial range, 7.5% to 28.2%, of students in the studied 'isolated' populations who have participated in NSSI. Another conclusion drawn from within the analysis of the YRBS results is the gender difference. Female adolescents consistently had higher rates of NSSI behavior as compared to males. Finally, as of 2012, there are no standardized programs for prevention and intervention for NSSI within the six states.


non-suicidal self-injury, self-Injury, deliberate self-harm, self-mutilation, intentional self-harm, adolescent, self-inflicted violence, qualtiy of life, adolescent, suicide, self-cutting, self-directed violence, Youth Risk Behavior Survey

Document Type




Degree Name

Health Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Armstrong, Jan