*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.
New research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, in collaboration with Glasgow University, has found that teenagers who have self-harmed five or more times in their life have a significantly higher threshold for pain compared to adolescents that have not.
The study, which has been published in JAMA Network Open, is the largest study of its kind looking at the relationship between self-harm and bodily sensation, found that the threshold for sensitivity, both painful and not, increases significantly the more a participant had self-harmed in the past.
64 participants aged between 12-17 were recruited from a mixture of community and residential care settings, as well as schools and youth groups in London and Glasgow. Each individual underwent a series of 13 tests, including thermal detection and pain thresholds, and pressure pain thresholds to establish at what point they detected a change in sensation or first began to feel pain.
Dr. Dennis Ougrin, the study’s Co-Lead author from King’s IoPPN, said “From the studies that we conducted, we can see that teenagers who have self-harmed five or more times in their past have a dramatically higher pain threshold, particularly in individuals that are living in care.”
“Once a person has become comfortable enough with pain, when they have raised the threshold far above what it would normally be in someone that hasn’t self-harmed, it is at that point we can say that they are at greater risk of suicide.”
The investigators now hope that these findings can be converted into a simple test using a pressure sensor to effectively identify at-risk individuals so that they can be provided with targeted support.