Common and distinguishing historical, criminal and current environmental and psychological characteristics in male inmates with a history of suicidal and/or non-suicidal self-injury

Publication Date06 Nov 2017
AuthorJennifer Barton,Steven R. Cumming,Anthony Samuels,Tanya Meade
SubjectHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology,Sociology,Sociology of crime & law,Deviant behaviour,Public policy & environmental management,Policing,Criminal justice
Common and distinguishing historical,
criminal and current environmental and
psychological characteristics in male
inmates with a history of suicidal and/or
non-suicidal self-injury
Jennifer Barton, Steven R. Cumming, Anthony Samuels and Tanya Meade
Purpose Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is distinguishable from suicide attempts (SAs) on a number of
psychological and motivational factors. However, in corrective services settings, NSSI and SA are not clearly
distinguished in assessment impacting on intervention. The purpose of this paper is to examine if
any attributes differentiate lifetime history of SA+NSSI, NSSI and SA presentations in inmates who had
recently been assessed in custody by a risk intervention team.
Design/methodology/approach A comprehensive clinicalassessment and file review was conductedwith
87 male inmates(including a no self-injury controlgroup) in two large correctionalcentres in New South Wales,
Australia, todetermine if three self-injury groupsdiffer from the control groupand if the three self-injury groups
differ from each otheracross a range of static, trait, environmental and clinicalcharacteristics.
Findings The SA+NSSI group was most different from the control group (27/59 variables), and from the SA
group (10/59 variables), predominantly across trait and clinical correlates. The SA group was least different
from the control group (2/59 variables: suicide ideation, childhood physical abuse).
Originality/value It was found that the presence of SA+NSSI history is an indicator of increased
psychopathology. A history of SA only appears not readily associated with psychopathology. The self-injury
subgroups reflected different clinical profiles with implications for risk assessment and treatment planning.
Keywords Inmates, Prisons, Prisoners, Offenders, Suicide attempts, Psychopathology, Corrective services,
Distinguishingcharacteristics, Non-suicidal self-injury, Suicidal self-injury
Paper type Research paper
Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is commonly defined as the direct deliberate destruction of ones
own body tissue in the absence of intent to die(Nock, 2009). Suicide attempts (SAs) refer to the
self-inflicted, potentially injurious behaviour with a non-fatal outcome for which there is evidence
of intent to die(Silverman et al., 2007). NSSI and SA frequently co-occur (Klonsky et al., 2013;
Andover et al., 2012; Bryan et al., 2015) and some authors propose that they are on a continuum
of increasing severity of behaviour (Kapur et al., 2013; Latimer et al., 2014) with a common
aetiology (Bresin et al., 2013). The two behaviours may however be distinguished by a number of
factors including the motivation and intent of the behaviour and differences in their function,
prevalence, medical severity and frequency (Klonsky et al., 2013; Muehlenkamp and Kerr, 2010).
Reflective of possible distinction between the two behaviours, NSSI has been proposed as a
condition for further study in the Americ an Psychiatric Association (2013) Dia gnostic
and Statistical Manual-5. Also, three empirically derived homogenous subgroups of suicidal
Received 6 March 2017
Revised 13 May 2017
26 June 2017
Accepted 27 June 2017
Declarations Ethics approval and
consent to participate: ethics
approval was obtained from the
University of Western Sydney and
the Corrective Service New South
Wales (NSW) Ethics Committees.
Consent for publication: not
Availability of data and material: the
data sets analysed during the
current study are not publicly
available due to the study being part
of a PhD research. The data set is
available from the corresponding
author on reasonable request.
Competing interests: the authors
declare that they have no competing
Funding: there were no funds
allocated to the project.
Authorscontributions: JB
developed this study, gathered and
analyzed the data and is the primary
author of the manuscript. TM, SC
and AS contributed to the
development of the study. TM and
SC provided advice on data
analyses. All authors contributed to
and approved the final manuscript.
The authors wish to acknowledge
Elizabeth Dowswell, Research
Assistant with the School of Social
Sciences and Psychology, for
formatting and submission
assistance with the preparation of
the manuscript.
The authorsaffiliations can be
found at the end of this article.
DOI 10.1108/JCP-03-2017-0012 VOL. 7 NO. 4 2017, pp. 229-243, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829
PAG E 22 9

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