Next Article in Journal
Depression in Intimate Partner Violence Victims in Slovenia: A Crippling Pattern of Factors Identified in Family Practice Attendees
Next Article in Special Issue
Patterns of Signs That Telephone Crisis Support Workers Associate with Suicide Risk in Telephone Crisis Line Callers
Previous Article in Journal
Annoyance Judgment and Measurements of Environmental Noise: A Focus on Italian Secondary Schools
Previous Article in Special Issue
Protective Factors in the Inuit Population of Nunavut: A Comparative Study of People Who Died by Suicide, People Who Attempted Suicide, and People Who Never Attempted Suicide
Open AccessArticle

Self-Harm among Young People Detained in the Youth Justice System in Sri Lanka

Forensic Psychiatric Unit, National Institute of Mental Health, Colombo 10620, Sri Lanka
Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne 3052, Australia
Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population of Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Australia
Mater Research Institute-UQ, University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia
Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane 4111, Australia
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne 3800, Australia
Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, London SE58AF, UK
Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(2), 209;
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 17 January 2018 / Accepted: 18 January 2018 / Published: 26 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Suicide Research)
PDF [312 KB, uploaded 26 January 2018]


Self-harm is prevalent in incarcerated adults, yet comparatively few studies of self-harm in detained youth (and even fewer in low- and middle-income countries) have been published. We examined the prevalence and correlates of self-harm in a sample of 181 young people (mean age 15.0 years, SD = 2.3) detained in the youth justice system in Sri Lanka. Structured face-to-face questionnaires assessed demographic characteristics, family and social background, substance use, self-harm history (including frequency, method, and intention), bullying victimization, physical and sexual abuse (victimization and perpetration), and exposure to self-harm/suicide by others. Seventy-seven participants (43%) reported a lifetime history of self-harm, 19 of whom (25%) who reported doing so with suicidal intent. Fifty participants (65% of those with a history of self-harm) reported engaging in self-harm impulsively, with no prior planning. A history of self-harm was associated with being female, prior sexual abuse victimization, prior exposure to self-harm by friends, and a lifetime history of self-harm ideation. High rates of substance use, bullying victimization, parental incarceration, and exposure to suicide were reported across the sample. Young people detained in the youth justice system in Sri Lanka are a vulnerable group with high rates of self-harm, substance use, and psychosocial risk factors. Strategies for identifying and preventing self-harm, and targeted psychological interventions designed specifically to address impulsivity, may contribute to more positive outcomes in this marginalised population. View Full-Text
Keywords: self-injurious behaviour; youth justice; Sri Lanka; adolescence; detention self-injurious behaviour; youth justice; Sri Lanka; adolescence; detention
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Hettiarachchi, L.V.; Kinner, S.A.; Tibble, H.; Borschmann, R. Self-Harm among Young People Detained in the Youth Justice System in Sri Lanka. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 209.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top