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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Nonsuicidal self-injury in queer youth Finnbogason, Signe


The phenomenon of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) involves the deliberate harm to one’s own body tissue, such as cutting or burning one’s skin, in the absence of suicidal intent or a pervasive developmental delay. Some prevalence studies have indicated that gay and bisexual youth may be at an increased risk of engaging in NSSI, but these studies have had very small numbers of non-heterosexual respondents (e.g., Murray, Warm, & Fox, 2005). The current study sought to investigate more fully the phenomenon of NSSI in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, genderqueer, and heterosexual individuals. The sample consisted of 155 heterosexual people aged 19-29 and 230 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and genderqueer people who responded to an online survey advertised across Canada. Participants replied to questions about background, gender identity, and sexual orientation, followed by questions from the Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Questionnaire (NSSI-Q), and the Center for Epidemiological Studies- Depression (CES-D) inventory. Findings indicate that there was a statistically significant difference in the rates of NSSI in the total queer sample (47%) compared to the heterosexual sample (28%). The highest rate of self-injury was in the transgendered and genderqueer sub-sample, which had a NSSI rate of 67%. This subsample also had the highest severity of self-injury. Parental reaction to coming out was statistically significantly related to rates of self-injury, while one’s own reaction to identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or genderqueer had a statistically significant relationship with severity of self-injury. There was also a relationship between the severity of self-injury and having been physically attacked due to sexual orientation or gender identity or having experienced homophobic bullying. The findings suggest that sexual orientation can have an impact on self-injury; implications for theory, practice, and research are discussed.

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