The relationship between portrayals of nonsuicidal self-injury, attitudes, knowledge, and behavior
RAdovic, S. & Hasking, P.
Background: The high prevalence of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) among young people has prompted research into why this may be a chosen coping strategy. One possibility is that the behavior is modeled from media depictions. Aims: The study examined the relationship between viewing films featuring NSSI and an individuals' knowledge, attitudes toward, and engagement in NSSI. Method: 317 individuals (18-30 years) completed an online survey measuring these key variables. Results: Exposure to NSSI in film was related to history of NSSI; an even stronger relationship emerged when individuals identified with the character. Films increase knowledge and empathy toward those engaging NSSI, but they may also serve to trigger NSSI. Conclusions: Portrayal of NSSI in film could be designed to minimize imitation and to consider the potential to increase knowledge of NSSI among those with little exposure to the behavior. However, because films may also trigger NSSI, further work is needed to determine under what circumstances, and for which individuals, films exert a protective or harmful effect.