Emerging adults demonstrate the highest rates of deliberate self-harm (DSH) and thus represent a population in need of further study. While child maltreatment (CM) history is a risk factor for DSH, the mechanisms behind this relationship are not fully understood. This study tested a model of mechanisms linking CM with DSH (likelihood of engaging in the behavior and frequency among those who self-harm) via negative urgency (tendency to engage in impulsive behaviors under conditions of negative affect), distress tolerance, sense of control, and desire for control in a sample of college students. As hypothesized, CM had a strong positive direct association with both the likelihood and frequency of DSH. CM was positively associated with negative urgency and inversely associated with distress tolerance and sense of control. Negative urgency was positively associated with DSH likelihood and frequency. Distress tolerance was not directly associated with DSH but was indirectly associated with DSH likelihood and frequency via negative urgency. Sense of control was not associated with the likelihood of engaging in DSH; however, among those who endorsed a history of DSH, sense of control was positively associated with DSH frequency. Desire for control was not associated with either CM or DSH.
- child maltreatment
- health risk behavior
- structural equation modeling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology