How common is self-injury in adolescence?
Self-injury usually begins in adolescence between 12 and 14 years of age. Between 10 and 23% of adolescents in the community self-injure at least once in their lifetime. This rate increases to 30 to 60% in clinical samples of adolescents. Adolescents who self-injure often engage in superficial to mild forms of the behaviour and self-injure for short periods of time. However, a third of adolescents who self-injure are likely to continue the behaviour in adolescence, with most university students stopping the behaviour within five years of first engaging in self-injury.
Self-injury is equally common among males and females, and can affect adolescents of any age, family background, religion, culture, and socio-economic group. However, males are more likely than females to hit and punch themselves, or bang a part of their body against a hard surface (e.g., punching walls), while females are more likely to cut and scratch themselves. Females are also more likely than males to seek help for self-injury. Self-injury can also begin in childhood. However, the prevalence of self-injury in children under 10 years of age is unclear.