Examining levels of defeat and entrapment in first-time and repeat episode self-harm

Kirsten Russell, Susan Rasmussen, Simon Hunter

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Introduction: Feelings of defeat and entrapment are recognised predictors of suicidal behaviour. Research grounded within the context of the Integrated Motivational-Volitional model of Suicidal behaviour has demonstrated that levels of defeat and entrapment do not distinguish between adolescents who have seriously thought about self-harm but have not acted on their thoughts (ideators) and those who have actually engaged in self-harm (enactors). However, it is not clear whether levels of defeat and entrapment differ between adolescents who report first time and repeat episode self-harm.
Goals: The aim of this investigation was to examine whether levels of defeat and entrapment differed in adolescents who had never self-harmed, had self-harmed once only or had a history or repeated self-harm. Previous research, in an adult population, has demonstrated that individuals reporting first-time and repeat episode self-harm differ on levels of both defeat and entrapment. Young people are particularly vulnerable to self-harm behaviours and so investigating this research question specifically within an adolescent population is justified. Methodology: 15 and 16 year old volunteers (n=1046) from Scottish secondary schools completed an anonymous questionnaire battery including questions measuring self-reported self-harm (with and without suicidal intent), entrapment, defeat and demographics (age, gender and race).
Results: Analyses examined differences between three participants groups: controls (no self-harm behaviour), first-episode self-harm and repeat-episode self-harm. All three groups were found to differ significantly in terms of defeat and entrapment. Post hoc tests revealed that both self-harm groups were significantly higher than controls on both measures. In addition, adolescents reporting repeated episodes of self-harm demonstrated higher levels of defeat and entrapment than those who had harmed themselves on one occasion. Conclusions: These findings reinforce evidence from previous research highlighting differences in defeat and entrapment between individuals endorsing first-time and repeat episode self-harm. In addition, findings extend knowledge and understanding regarding adolescent self-harm specifically.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2016


  • self-harm
  • suicidal behaviour
  • entrapment


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