Impulsivity and clinical symptoms among adolescents with non-suicidal self-injury with or without attempted suicide

Donald M. Dougherty, Charles W. Mathias, Dawn M. Marsh-Richard, Kristen N. Prevette, Michael A. Dawes, Erin S. Hatzis, Guy Palmes, Sylvain O. Nouvion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


This study examined clinical characteristics and laboratory-measured impulsive behavior of adolescents engaging in either non-suicidal self-injury with (NSSI + SA; n = 25) or without (NSSI-Only; n = 31) suicide attempts. We hypothesized that adolescent with NSSI + SI would exhibit more severe clinical symptoms and higher levels of behavioral impulsivity compared to adolescents with NSSI-Only. Adolescents were recruited from an inpatient psychiatric hospital unit and the two groups were compared on demographic characteristics, psychopathology, self-reported clinical ratings, methods of non-suicidal self-injury, and two laboratory impulsivity measures. Primary evaluations were conducted during psychiatric hospitalization, and a subset of those tested during hospitalization was retested 4-6 weeks after discharge. During hospitalization, NSSI + SA patients reported worse depression, hopelessness, and impulsivity on standard clinical measures, and demonstrated elevated impulsivity on a reward-directed laboratory measure compared to NSSI-Only patients. In the follow-up analyses, depression, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and laboratory impulsivity were improved for both groups, but the NSSI + SA group still exhibited significantly more depressive symptoms, hopelessness, and impulsivity than the NSSI-Only group. Risk assessments for adolescents with NSSI + SA should include consideration not only of the severity of clinical symptoms but of the current level impulsivity as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 30 2009


  • Adolescent
  • Behavior
  • Human
  • Impulsitivity
  • Inpatient
  • Non-suicidal self-injury
  • Suicide attempt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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