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Thoughts of Self-Harm and Help-Seeking Behavior among Youth in the Community

Authors

  • Renee D. Goodwin PhD, MPH,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Psychology, Queens College, City University of New York, and Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
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  • Michelle Mocarski MPH,

    1. Department of Psychology, Queens College, City University of New York, and Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
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  • Andrej Marusic MD,

    1. Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia, Portoroz, Slovenia
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  • Annette Beautrais PhD

    1. Department of Surgery, University of Auckland School of Medical and Health Sciences, Auckland, New Zealand
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Address correspondence to Renee D. Goodwin, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, NY 10032, USA; E-mail: renee.goodwin@qc.cuny.edu

Abstract

The association between thoughts of self-harm and help-seeking among youth with symptoms of depression was examined. Data were drawn from the Health Behavior of School-aged Children Study (n = 15, 686), a nationally representative sample of youth in the United States. Analyses focused on comparing help-seeking behaviors among youth with and without thoughts of deliberate self-harm (DSH) when depressed. Depressed youth with thoughts of DSH exhibited different patterns of help-seeking than those without. Both groups most frequently sought help from friends and parents. However, adolescents with thoughts of DSH were statistically more likely than youth without to seek help from friends (DSH: 69.9%; no DSH: 57.8%; AOR = 1.46), but less likely to seek help from parents (DSH: 53.7%; no DSH: 73.1%; AOR = 0.47). Youth with DSH were more likely to seek help from school officials (AOR = 1.05), health professionals (AOR: 1.83), or a counselor (AOR = 1.93) compared with those without thoughts of DSH who were more likely to seek help from a sibling (AOR: 0.77) or other relatives (AOR: 0.78). Results may help inform programs to improve identification of youth at risk of self-harm in community and school settings.

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