Year: 2016 Source: Archives of Suicide Research.(2016).20(2):205-218. DOI:10.1080/13811118.2015.1004495 SIEC No: 20160254

Insecure attachment is associated with self-harm in young people, but little research has explored the pathways through which this relationship develops. We investigated whether attachment impacts on self-harm via its effect on coping strategies and appraisal of problem-solving abilities. A total of 314 students aged 18Ð20 years completed an online survey with measures of parental attachment, emotion-focused and problem-focused coping strategies, and psychological distress and self-harm. A mediational model was not supported as there were no direct effects between parental attachment and self-harm. However, analysis of specific indirect pathways revealed that perceived parental attachment impacts on self-harm through problem-focused coping. Higher quality of attachment was associated with greater reliance on problem-focused (adaptive) coping, which in turn was associated with a decreased risk of having self-harmed. Furthermore, poorer paternal attachment was associated with lower appraisal of problem-solving skills, which in turn was associated with an increased risk of having self-harmed. Individuals with insecure attachment may be more vulnerable to self-harm because they lack other more constructive coping strategies for relieving stress.