Suicide Risk, Self-Injury, and Sleep: An Exploration of the Associations in a Sample of Juvenile Justice Involved Adolescents

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Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice

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Court-involved youth living in the community represent a vulnerable, yet understudied, group that is at risk for a variety of concerning outcomes including increased suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). Additionally, sleep disruption, which has been associated with an increase in impulsive decision making, appears to be disproportionately high in this population. However, little is known about any connection between poor sleep and increased suicide risk and NSSI in a group of youth. This study explores the associations between sleep disruption, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and NSSI in a sample of court-involved youth in the community referred for mental health evaluation at a court-based mental health clinic. Findings suggest that sleep disruption is related to NSSI in this population but not suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Additional relationships were found between NSSI and being female, as well as having a lifetime history of trauma and marijuana use. Findings suggest that court clinics may wish to screen for sleep disruption as a risk factor for NSSI, and future studies may wish to explore improved sleep as a protective factor for CINI youth.