Research in the Disciplines: College!
7 March 2017
Working Title: Prevalence of Non-suicidal Self Harm in Higher Education
I will explore the reasons why non-suicidal self harm is most common in adolescents from the ages of 18 - 25. The paper will link the anxiety typically generated in a college environment to the the reasons that a student may feel the need to participate in self harm. In addition, I would like uncover what social class, gender, and race is most likely to suffer from college induced mental illnesses.
Can the anxiety felt from attending a four year university contribute to the rising number of students who are engaging in non-suicidal self harm? What different factors impact students of different genders and races?
The highest portion of the population who participate in non-suicidal self harm are in the times of their lives where they are attending higher education. Since the suicide rate has been increasing in previous years in the United States I think it is important to take a look at the portion of the population that it is effecting the most. It seems pretty clear that college students experience an elevated level of stress compared to the rest of society. I would like to know contributing factors to this anxiety and also how they impact students of different genders and race.
I hear about people from my town who I grew up around the corner from who have taken their own lives. This causes me to gain a curiosity for the reasons adolescents have that influence this decision. I personally, could not imagine causing any harm to myself but I would like to have a better understanding of why my peers might.
Research and Plan
Non-suicidal self harm is defined as the “deliberate infliction of self-harm that causes immediate tissue damage with no intent to die” (Wester & Trepal 1). When a person causes harm to themselves in a way that is not life threatening, it is commonly seen as an identifier with depression and can sometimes even lead to the individual taking their own life. Alicia Kruiddrlbrink Flatt, the author of, A Suffering Generation: Six Factors Contributing to the Mental Health Crisis in North American Higher Education, writes about the increase in depression and suicidal thoughts in college aged students. In her article she tells us that the suicide rate in students since the 60’s has nearly tripled. She attributes this exponential rise to six different factors. One of the most obvious is the financial burden that is created by college. This gives the potential to relate non-suicidal self harm to aspects of privatization in higher education. Another interesting factor she discusses are the increase in female students attending college, who appear to have more of a difficult time adjusting emotionally to the new environment. This is a reason that female students are more likely to deliberately harm themselves in more graphic ways through methods like self-cutting . However, male students are not immune to this type of behavior. The doctors behind the article, Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in a College Population: General Trends and Sex Differences, suggest that just as many male students harm themselves as female students do but since their self harm style typically involves punching through walls it doesn’t seem as much as a pressing issue. Some additional influences that can contribute to non-suicidal self harm as documented in the research paper entitled, Self-Efficacy Pathways between Relational Aggression and Nonsuicidal Self-Injury, by Trevor J. Buser, Christina Hamme Peterson, and Anne Kearney, are overbearing parents and victimizing social circles. These two things are definitely present in the lives of students in higher education In my research I discovered a study stating that in higher education Caucasian and Hispanic students engage in NSSI the most out of any other race (Wester & Trepal 1). I think it would be most interesting to focus on the females of these ethnicities since they are the students most likely to use self harm.
Buser, Trevor J., Christina Hamme Peterson, and Anne Kearney. "Self-Efficacy Pathways
Between Relational Aggression and Nonsuicidal Self-Injury." Journal of College Counseling 18.3 (2015): 195-208. Web.
Kruisselbrink Flatt, Alicia. "A Suffering Generation: Six Factors Contributing to the Mental
Health Crisis in North American Higher Education." College Quarterly 16.1 (2013):
1-17. ERIC: Educational Resources Information Center. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
Wester, Kelly L., and Heather C. Trepal. "Nonsuicidal Self-Injury: Exploring the Connection
Among Race, Ethnic Identity, and Ethnic Belonging." Journal of College Student
Development 56.2 (2015): 127-39. Web.
Whitlock, Janis, Jennife Muehlenkamp, Amanda Purington, John Eckenrode, Paul Barreira, Gina
Abrams, TIm Marchell, Victoria Kress, Kristine Girard, Calvin Chin, and Kerry Knox.
"Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in a College Population: General Trends and Sex Differences."
Journal of American College Health. Routledge. Available From: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax:
215-625-2940; Web Site: Http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals, 30 Nov. 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.