Youth Engaged in Digital Self-Harm 9 to 15 Times More Likely to Attempt Suicide

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by EurekAlert!

Digital self-harm is defined as the online posting, sending, or sharing of hurtful content about oneself anonymously. Since research is clear that traditional forms of self-harm (cutting, burning, hitting oneself) are linked to suicidal ideation and attempts, it stands to reason that youth who post cruel, embarrassing, or threatening content about themselves (while their peers assume a third-party is the culprit) do so for similar dysphoric or abnormal reasons.

A new study by Florida Atlantic University, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Florida International University, is the first to empirically demonstrate an association between digital self-harm and suicidality. Findings serve as a warning sign that youth who engage in digital self-harm may also be engaging in or at risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 19-year-olds, eclipsed only by unintentional deaths such as from an auto accident.

Results of the study, published in the journal Child and Adolescent Mental Health, showed that approximately 9 percent of adolescents reported that they had anonymously posted something online about themselves that was mean, while about 5 percent said they had anonymously cyberbullied themselves. With regard to suicidality, about 8 percent of adolescents reported that they had thought seriously about attempting suicide in the past year, while 5.3 percent said they had attempted suicide during that time period.

Most pertinent is the finding that those engaged in digital self-harm were between five and seven times more likely to have considered suicide and between nine and 15 times more likely to have attempted to end their life.

Source: EurekAlert!

Help us reach the next generation of families

Back to Top

[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

  • Support Our Mission

    HomeWord is non-profit, donor supported ministry. If you would like to partner with HomeWord in our effort to help more parents and families you can make a donation. Your investment will allow us to expand this ministry by offering more resources to families and churches in need.

  • Contact Information

    • HomeWord
      PO Box 1600
      San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Send us an email

    • 800-397-9725
      (M-F: 8:30am-5pm PST)