Quality of attachment, trauma, psychopathology, and frequency of non-suicidal self-injury in Mexican adolescents suffering from psychosocial vulnerability: Description of a risk profile

Miguel Marín-Tejeda, Kalina Isela Martínez-Martínez, Carolina Santillán Torres-Torija

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17711/SM.0185-3325.2021.009


Introduction. Suffering from psychosocial vulnerability, particularly during adolescence, increases the likelihood of experiencing adverse life circumstances, psychiatric conditions, and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI).

Objective. We studied: 1. record-based demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as the frequency of NSSI in adolescents, beneficiaries of services for vulnerable population of one of six Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), we compared by beneficiary type: internal (IB) versus external (EB); 2. predictive relationship of NSSI with depression, difficulties in emotion regulation (DER) and suicidal ideation (administered measures); 3. Comparison of average scores on measures by: quality of attachment (QOA) and presence/absence of NSSI.

Method. A convenience sample of 255 adolescents (45.5% women, ages 11-15) answered instruments in institutional facilities (Mexico City and Puebla), where 181 (71%) resided as IB and 74 (29%) resided in family home (EB). The mental health staff of each NGO specified according to the record: demographics, psychiatric diagnoses, history of trauma, and QOA between the minor and his attachment figure.

Results. 42% denied NSSI episodes, 16.9% indicated a non-significant pattern, and 35.6% reported a significant and recent pattern. IB presented higher scores in all measurements, higher report of interpersonal trauma, depressive, anxiety, and behavior disorders. Minors with positive QOA obtained significantly lower scores.

Discussion and conclusion. Compared to EB’s, adolescents residing in NGOs have a higher risk profile, particularly those without a positive QOA, a fact that is associated with a greater presence of psychopathology and significant and recent NSSI.


Non-suicidal self-injury; adolescents; vulnerability; suicidal ideation; depression; attachment; trauma

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