Self-harm in young offenders

Rohan Borschmann*, Carolyn Coffey, Paul Moran, Stephen Hearps, Louisa Degenhardt, Stuart A. Kinner, George Patton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The prevalence and correlates of self-harm and suicidal behavior in 515 young offenders (mean age 17.3 years, SD = 1.7) serving community-based orders (CBOs; n = 242) or custodial sentences (n = 273) in Victoria, Australia, are described. Results from structured interviews showed that 83 (16.1%) participants reported self-harming in the previous 6 months, and this was more common among those serving custodial sentences than those serving CBOs (19.4% vs. 12.4%; OR 3.10, 95% CI: 1.74-5.55). Multiple incidents were more common in females and 24% (95% CI: 19-39) of participants who had self-harmed reported having done so with suicidal intent. Self-harm was associated with recent bullying victimization, expulsion from school, past year violent victimization, cannabis dependence, and risk-taking behavior in the preceding year. The epidemiological profile of self-harm in this population appears to be distinct from that seen in the general population. Young offenders who self-harm are a vulnerable group with high rates of psychiatric morbidity, substance misuse problems, and social risk factors. They may benefit from targeted psychological interventions designed specifically to address impulsivity, delivered both within-and during the transition from-the youth justice system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-652
Number of pages12
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


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