Document Type : Research Article


1 Master of General Psychology, University of Guilan, Rasht, Iran.

2 Professor, Psychology Department, University of Guilan


One of the common problems among university students is self-harm behavior which has many negative consequences for the people involved and the society. The aim of this study is to investigate the frequency of occurrence of self-harm behavior in university students. The participants of this descriptive study include the entire undergraduate students of the University of Guilan in the academic year 2019-20. A total of 508 students (368 females and 140 males) are selected based on Convenience Sampling. For data collection, the Self-harm Inventory Questionnaire (SHI) is employed; moreover, descriptive statistics as well as Chi-square test are used. According to the findings, 17.8% of students have self-harm behavior. The results of Chi-square test reveal that there is no significant difference between male and female students in terms of the frequency of occurrence of direct, indirect and general self-harm behavior (P> 0.01). Burning the body, recklessness in driving, alcohol abuse and deliberate loss of job in male students and being involved in relationships that expose one to sexual abuse and deliberate self-starvation are more common in female students (p< 0.01).  Also, local and non-local university students and different age groups of students show significant different behavior in terms of direct and indirect self-harm (P<0.01). Based on the findings, it can be stated that self-harm is relatively common behavior among university students. As a result, these people need to be identified and treated in a timely manner to reduce the negative consequences of this kind of behavior.


Main Subjects

Aliverdinia, A., Rezaei, A., & Peyro, F. (2012). A Sociological Analysis of University Students Attitude's toward Suicide. Journal of Applied sociology, 22(4), 1-14.
Atadokht, A., Ranjbar, M. j., Gholami, F., & Nazari, T. (2013). Students Drive towards Risk-Taking Behaviors and Its Relationship with Demographic Variables and Psychological Well-Being. Journal of Health and Care, 15(4), 50-59. 
Auerbach, R. P., Pagliaccio, D., Allison, G. O., Alqueza, K. L., & Alonso, M. F. (2020). Neural Correlates Associated with Suicide and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in Youth. Biological Psychiatry, 89(2), 119-133.
Bresin, K., & Schoenleber, M. (2015). Gender differences in the prevalence of nonsuicidal self-injury: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 38, 55-64.
Bruffaerts, R., Mortier, P., Auerbach, R. P., Alonso, J., Hermosillo De la Torre, A. E., Cuijpers, P., et al. (2019). Lifetime and 12‐month treatment for mental disorders and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among first year college students. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 28(2), e1764.
Bruffaerts, R., Mortier, P., Kiekens, G., Auerbach, R. P., Cuijpers, P., Demyttenaere, K., et al. (2018). Mental health problems in college freshmen: Prevalence and academic functioning. Journal of Affective Disorders, 225, 97-103.
Burke, T. A., Ammerman, B. A., Hamilton, J. L., Stange, J. P & Piccirillo, M. (2020). Nonsuicidal self-injury scar concealment from the self and others. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 130, 313-320.
Cleare, S., Gumley, A., & O'Connor, R. C. (2019). Self‐compassion, self‐forgiveness, suicidal ideation, and self‐harm: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy. 26(5), 511-530.
Favazza, A. R. (2006). Self-injurious behavior in college students. Pediatrics, 117(6), 2283-2284.
Garisch, J. A., & Wilson, M. S. (2015). Prevalence, correlates, and prospective predictors of non-suicidal self-injury among New Zealand adolescents: Cross-sectional and longitudinal survey data. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 9(1), 28.
Gholamrezaei, M., Heath, N., & Panaghi, L. (2017). Non-suicidal self-injury in a sample of university students in Tehran, Iran: prevalence, characteristics and risk factors. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, 10(2), 136-149.
Gratz, K. L. (2001). Measurement of deliberate self-harm: Preliminary data on the Deliberate Self-Harm Inventory. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 23(4):253-263.
Hamza, C. A., & Willoughby, T. (2019). Impulsivity and nonsuicidal self-injury: A longitudinal examination among emerging adults. Journal of Adolescence, 75, 37-46.
Heath, N., Toste, J., Nedecheva, T., & Charlebois, A. (2008). An examination of nonsuicidal self-injury among college students. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 30(2), 137-156.
Hilton, L. A. (2017). Provider Perspectives on Self-Injurious Behavior: Past, Present, and Future Directions. Dissertation. Antioch University New England. Department of Clinical Psychology.
Hjorth, C. F., Bilgrav, L., Frandsen, L. S., Overgaard, C., Torp-Pedersen C, Nielsen B, et al. (2016). Mental health and school dropout across educational levels and genders: a 4.8-year follow-up study. BMC public health, 16(1), 976.
Izakian, S., Mirzaian, B., & Hossein,i S. H. (2017). Review on Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in Iranian Young adults and Adolescents. Clinical Excellence, 8(2), 14-25.  
Khanipour, H., Nemati, M., Mohammadi A. (2018). Comparison of self-harm and defense mechanisms in individuals with Gender Identity Disorder before and after sex reassignment surgery. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 9, 23-32. [Persian]. doi: 10.22075/JCP.2018.11263.1116.
Kharsati, N., & Bhola, P. (2016). Self-injurious behavior, emotion regulation, and attachment styles among college students in India. Industrial psychiatry journal, 25(1), 23-28.
Klonsky, E. D. (2007). The functions of deliberate self-injury: A review of the evidence. Clinical Psychology Review, 27(2), 226–239.  
Labouliere, C, D. (2009). The spectrum of self-harm in college undergraduates: The intersection of maladaptive coping and emotion dysregulation. Masteral Dissertations. University of South Florida. College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Lang, C., & Sharma-patel. K. (2011). The relation between childhood maltreatment and self-injury: a review of the literature on conceptualization and intervention. Trauma Violence Abuse, 12(1), 23-27.
Laye-Gindhu, A., & Schonert-Reichl, K. A. (2005). Nonsuicidal self-harm among community adolescents: Understanding the “whats” and “whys” of self-harm. Journal of youth and Adolescence, 34(5), 447-57.
Lockwood, J., Townsend, E., Daley, D., & Sayal, K. (2020). Impulsivity as a predictor of self-harm onset and maintenance in young adolescents: a longitudinal prospective study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 274, 583-592.
Mental Health America. (2020). Self-injury (cutting, selfharm, or self-mutilation). Available from:
Mo, J., Wang, C., Niu, X., Jia, X., Liu, T., & Lin, L. (2019). The relationship between impulsivity and self-injury in Chinese undergraduates: the chain mediating role of stressful life events and negative affect. Journal of affective disorders, 256, 259-66.
Moran, P., Coffey, C., Romaniuk, H., Olsson, C., Borschmann, R., Carlin, J. B, et al. (2012). The natural history of self-harm from adolescence to young adulthood: a population-based cohort study. The Lancet, 379(9812), 236-43.
Mullins‐Sweatt, S. N., Lengel, G. J., & Grant, D. M. (2013). Non‐suicidal self‐injury: The contribution of general personality functioning. Personality and Mental Health, 7(1), 56-68.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. Self-harm. (2020). Available via (Accessed 30 March 2020).
Nobakht, N. H., Yngvar, K. D. (2017). The prevalence of deliberate self-harm and its relationships to trauma and dissociation among Iranian young adults. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 18(4), 610–623.
Nock, M. K. (2010). Self-injury. Annual review of clinical psychology, 6, 339-363.
Nock, M. (2009). Why do People Hurt Themselves? New insight in to the nature and functions of self-injury. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2, 1-15. https://10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01613.x.
 Rotolone, C., & Martin, G. (2012). Giving up self-injury: A comparison of everyday social and personal resources in past versus current self-injurers. Archives of Suicide Research, 16(2), 147-58.
Sansone R. A., Sellbom, M & Songer, D. A. (2018). Borderline personality disorder and mental health care utilization: The role of self-harm. Journal of Personality Disorders, 9(2),188–191.
Sansone, R. A, Wiederman, M. W & Sansone, L. (1998). The Self-Harm Inventory (SHI): Development of a scale for identifying self-destructive behaviors and borderline personality disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 54(7), 973-83.;2-H
Sivertsen, B., Hysing, M., Knapstad, M., Harvey AG, Reneflot A, Lønning KJ, et al. (2019). Suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-harm among university students: prevalence study. BJPsych open, 5(2), e26.
Taliaferro, A. L., Muehlenkamp, J. (2015). Risk Factors Associated with Self-injurys Behavior Among a National Sample of Undergraduate College Students. Journal of American College Health, 63(1), 40-48.
Van der Wal, W., & George, A. A. (2018). Social support-oriented coping and resilience for self-harm protection among adolescents. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 28(3), 237-41.
Vidourek, A. R. (2018). Non-suicidal self-injury and associated factors among college students. Journal of behavioral health, 7(4), 168–176.
White, V. E., Trepal‐Wollenzier, H., & Nolan, J. M. (2002). College students and self‐injury: Intervention strategies for counselors. Journal of College Counseling, 5(2), 105-13.
Whitlock, J. (2009). The cutting edge: Non-suicidal self-injury in adolescence. Act for Youth Center of Excellence: Research Facts and Findings. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.
Whitlock, J., Muehlenkamp, J., Eckenrode. J., Purington, A., Abrams, G. B., Barreira, P., et al. (2013). Nonsuicidal self-injury as a gateway to suicide in young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(4), 486-92.
Whitlock, J., Muehlenkamp, J., Purington, A., Eckenrode, J., Barreira, P., Baral, Abrams., G, et al. (2011). Nonsuicidal self-injury in a college population: General trends and sex differences. Journal of American College Health, 59(8), 691-8.
Wilkinson, P. O., Qiu, T., Neufeld, S., Jones, P. B., & Goodyer, I. M. (2018). Sporadic and recurrent nonsuicidal self-injury before age 14 and incident onset of psychiatric disorders by 17 years: Prospective cohort study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 212(4), 222–226.
Wiseman, J. M. (2017). Self-Compassion and Its Relation to Nonsuicidal Self-Injury. Dissertation. Wright State University. The School of Professional Psychology.
Wu, C. Y., Stewart, R., Huang, H. C., Prince, M., & Liu, S. I. (2011). The impact of quality and quantity of social support on help-seeking behavior prior to deliberate self-harm. General hospital psychiatry, 33(1), 37-44.
Xavier, A., Cunha, M., Gouveia, P. J. (2019). Validation of the Risk-Taking and Self-Harm Inventory for Adolescents in a Portuguese Community Sample. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 52(1), 1-14.
Xavier, A., Gouveia, P. J., & Cunha, M. (2016). Non-suicidal Self-Injury in Adolescence: The Role of Shame, Self-Criticism and Fear of Self-Compassion Non suicidal Self-Injury in Adolescence. Child Youth Care Forum