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Invited Commentary
August 2018

Dialectical Behavior Therapy—A Highly Effective Treatment for Some Adolescents Who Self-harm

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 2Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, United Kingdom
JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(8):786-787. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1079

Self-harm is a highly common behavior in adolescents, which is associated with future attempted suicide, completed suicide, and onset of mental illness.1 It is associated with significant distress (both as a cause and as an outcome) and social impairment.2 It is therefore essential that we provide effective treatment. Self-harm is a hazardous behavior that can occur in young people with any mental disorder and in young people with no psychiatric diagnosis.2 This demonstrates the need for specific treatments aimed at adolescent self-harm, which may confer additional benefits, on top of treatments aimed at the underlying disorder. This is particularly true for young people who do not meet strict criteria for any psychiatric illness but do have impairing self-harm.