McNair Scholars Research Journal


Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) is a concerning behavior disproportionately affecting adolescents today. Rates of NSSI have increased, as have depictions of NSSI in the media. Therefore, some researchers believe that increased media exposure is contributing to increased rates of NSSI. Research has shown that NSSI is a coping mechanism and/or a cry for help among those who display such behaviors. However, studies also show that many adolescents with this behavior do not seek help. This may be because persons engaging in NSSI feel that their behavior, thoughts, or feelings are stigmatized by the general population. The purpose of this study is twofold: first, to describe the level of stigma that currently exists among a college population; and second, to examine the relationship between popular media exposure to NSSI and perceptions, or stigma, toward NSSI. Seventy-eight college students completed a survey including a stigma measure, an exposure measure, and reacted to a vignette describing a scene from Catherine Hardwicke’s movie, Thirteen (2003). Analyses revealed the level of stigma was at a mid-level, and that it was not significantly related to reported level of movie media exposure.