Life Events Predicting the First Onset of Adolescent Direct Self-Injurious Behavior—A Prospective Multicenter Study

Michael Kaess, Lena Eppelmann, Romuald Brunner, Peter Parzer, Franz Resch, Vladimir Carli, Camilla Wasserman, Marco Sarchiapone, Christina W. Hoven, Alan Apter, Judit Balazs, Shila Barzilay, Julio Bobes, Doina Cosman, Lili O. Horvath, Jean Pierre Kahn, Helen Keeley, Elaine McMahon, Tina Podlogar, Vita PostuvanPilar A. Saiz, Alexandra Tubiana, Airi Varnik, Danuta Wasserman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Self-injurious behavior is a frequent phenomenon in adolescence. The present study prospectively examined life events as risk factors for the first onset of direct self-injurious behavior (D-SIB) in the Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe school-based multicenter sample. Methods: Longitudinal assessments with an interval of 1 year were performed within a sample of 1,933 adolescents (51.47% females; mean age 14.84 ± .9 years) from 10 European countries and Israel. Results: The number of life events during the past 6 months predicted the first onset of D-SIB in the following year. Gender neither predicted the onset of D-SIB nor moderated the association with life events. Moreover, analyses of individual events identified a range of mainly interpersonal events within both family and peer group as proximal risk factors for first episode D-SIB. Conclusions: The results support the critical role of interpersonal life events in the development of D-SIB for both genders and refine the conceptualization of proximal risk factors in terms of accumulated stressors and interpersonal events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine


  • Adolescents
  • D-SIB
  • Life events
  • Self-harm
  • Self-injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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