Bullying and Self-harm in Adolescents: The Roles of Attachment Style and Parental Support

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Law


Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among adolescents globally. The strongest known predictor of suicide is self-harm. Recent research has shown that self-harm increases rapidly between the ages of 12 and 15 years, particularly in females. Nevertheless, the origins of this increase have only been examined by a small number of studies.
An under-researched, yet important risk factor for adolescent self-harm is bullying. It has been shown that victimisation is associated with severe mental health effects and increased risk of suicidal ideation and self-harm behaviour. Furthermore, bullies who have also been victimised are at increased risk of acute mental health problems and self-harm behaviour.
A significant factor associated with bullying is parent-child bonding, particularly in females. Research has found insecure attachment styles in both victims and bully-victims. Similarly, research has found an association between victimisation/bully-victimisation and low parental support.
Currently, there is minimal research investigating these potential factors; yet, it is vital to increase our understanding in order to inform the development of future interventions and clinical support for self-harm which is urgently needed in young people. Consequently, this PhD project will aim to address the initial questions:
1) Does attachment style and parental support mediate the relationship between victimisation/bully-victimisation and self-harm?
2) What are the key factors relating to attachment style and parental support in those with self-harmful behaviour?
This PhD project will consist of two studies, combining quantitative and qualitative research techniques which will inform the design of a large prospective school-based study. This will enable us to test the temporal relationships amongst these variables in adolescents.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000711/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2271324 Studentship ES/P000711/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2023 Hayley Moore