Anger precedes and predicts nonsuicidal self-injury in veterans: Findings from an ecological momentary assessment study

Kirsten H. Dillon, Jeffrey J. Glenn, Paul A. Dennis, Stefanie T. LoSavio, Clair Cassiello-Robbins, Molly A. Gromatsky, Jean C. Beckham, Patrick S. Calhoun, Nathan A. Kimbrel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Veterans have high rates of suicide, and nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is one of the strongest predictors of suicide risk; however, there is presently little known about antecedents of NSSI that might inform intervention efforts. Accumulating research suggests that anger and hostility play an important role in NSSI, but whether these emotions precede and predict NSSI is currently unknown. The aim of the current study was to examine the temporal relationships between anger/hostility and NSSI urges and behavior among veterans diagnosed with NSSI disorder. Our hypothesis was that angry/hostile affect would predict subsequent NSSI urge and engagement, but not vice versa. Forty veterans with NSSI disorder completed a 28-day ecological momentary assessment study with three daily prompts to report on their affect and NSSI urges and engagement. Multilevel cross-lagged path modeling was used to determine the direction of effects between angry/hostile affect and NSSI urges and engagement over time. Consistent with our hypothesis, results indicated that the lagged effects of angry/hostile affect on subsequent NSSI urge and engagement were significant, whereas the lagged effects of NSSI urge and engagement on angry/hostile affect were not significant. Findings highlight the importance of assessing and treating anger among veterans who engage in NSSI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-51
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Anger
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Hostility
  • Nonsuicidal self-injury
  • Risk factors
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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