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Course Description

Non-suicidal self-injury is intentionally hurting the body (e.g. cutting, burning etc..) but without suicidal intent.  Because it often looks like a suicidal gesture it tends to evoke fear and confusion. Its very nature seems to defy deep instinctual human drives for self-preservation as well strong social taboos related to self-inflicted injury. It is, after all, quite puzzling. Why would someone choose to cut up or otherwise hurt his/her body? Why would they do this in way that looks like a suicide attempt but then insist that it actually has nothing to do with suicide at all?  How do we understand this, let alone effectively address and prevent it? Join the instructor to review self-injury contexts, epidemiology, function, vectors for contagion and spread, and strategies for detection, intervention and prevention. The focus is on self-injury in community (non-clinical) populations of youth, but does include information useful for anyone wanting to understand core common features, functions, and intervention strategies.

Faculty Author

Janis Whitlock

Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR)
Cornell University
Research Scientist
Director, Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

Benefits to the Learner

By the end of the training, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the developmental and contextual contexts contributors to development, maintenance and cessation of non-suicidal self-injury 
  • Identify key features of self-injury epidemiology, function, and recovery
  • Describe vectors for contagion and spread
  • Understand core principles and practices in effective self-injury detection and intervention
  • Discuss implications of the above for development of protocols and intervention strategies
  • Locate and use self-injury resources (articles, books, websites)

Target Audience

Youth serving professionals operating in school systems, systems of higher education, and community-based organizations and mental health providers.  Parents and care givers may also benefit from this course.

Accrediting Associations

  • National Association of Social Workers -Expert Led Approval Number 886718755-0 15.0 Hours
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Cornell University, College of Human Ecology

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