There’s a well-established relationship between depression, anxiety, emotion dysregulation and aggression, in the form of self harm. These populations have predominately been Caucasian. This study aimed to characterize selfinjurious thoughts and behaviors, and to correlate / compare these statistics between African American and Caucasian samples. Samples were drawn from two universities, one predominantly Caucasian and one predominantly African American. Sample One included 168 self-identified African American college students.
Sample Two included 186 self-identified Caucasian college students. Participants completed a series of online questionnaires assessing depression, anxiety, emotion dysregulation, urges to self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and substance use. Results from the first sample included: 8.3% reported seriously considering suicide (4.3%; Sample Two) and 14.9% reported any urges to self-harm (7.6%; Sample Two). In the past month, nearly a third, 31.5% (55.9%; Sample Two), endorsed binge drinking and 44% (15.6%; Sample Two) reported marijuana use. For African Americans, emotion dysregulation was significantly correlated with urges to self-harm (r=.31, p<.001) and considering suicide (r=.24, p=.002), as were depression and anxiety.
Psychiatric risk factors were not associated with substance use, although marijuana use was correlated with binge drinking (r=.39, p<.001). For Caucasians, emotion dysregulation was correlated with suicidal considerations (r=.31, p<.001) and marijuana (r=.24, p=.001), as were depression and anxiety. Marijuana use was correlated with urges to self-harm (r=.27, p<.001). These results indicate different rates of self-harm (direct and indirect) thoughts and behaviors.
Authors: Alex Jaffe, B.A., Noelle B. Smith, Ph.D., Danyella Greene, M.S., Alicia E. Meuret, Ph.D., Pierre Leon, M.A., Melissa Williams, & Breanna Willis