Year: 2023 Source: Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. (2021), 51(4), 665-672. SIEC No: 20230026

The relationship between explicit nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) behavior and implicit identification with NSSI is important to understand considering the under-reported nature of NSSI and the subsequent elevated risk of more severe NSSI. It was expected that implicit assessment of NSSI at baseline would be associated with past-year NSSI frequency assessed at baseline and that it would more strongly associate with NSSI frequency than self-reported future likelihood of NSSI at a 6-month follow-up.
Data were collected from 420 young adults (mean age = 19; 83% women, 87% White) with recent NSSI at baseline, and 324 were assessed at 6-month follow-up. Participants completed self-report measures and the Self-Injury Implicit Association Task (SI-IAT) at each time point.
Baseline implicit NSSI scores significantly predicted NSSI frequency at baseline but not at 6-month follow-up. However, explicit ratings were strongly and significantly associated with future NSSI frequency.
These findings suggest that although implicit identification with oneself and NSSI is important to understand, there are limitations regarding the possible utility of the SI-IAT in predicting future NSSI engagement and further research is needed to fully understand why NSSI continues to be such a strong predictor of future NSSI behavior, and suicidal ideation and behavior.