Erica R. Hoff

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The primary purpose of the current study was to examine the role of social support as a potential protective factor of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). Specifically, the study hypothesized that social support would moderate (decrease) the power of the relationship between NSSI risk factors and NSSI frequency. The four risk factors of interest were borderline personality disorder (BPD) traits, an invalidating family environment, depression, and anxiety. Data was collected via self-report questionnaires from a sample of 233 individuals currently enrolled as undergraduates at the University of North Dakota. Results indicated individuals with a history of one or more acts of NSSI demonstrated significantly lower levels of perceived social support than their peers in the no NSSI control group. Similarly, those with a history of NSSI demonstrated higher scores on each of the four risk factors when compared with the no NSSI control group. Moderational analyses indicated that social support moderated (decreased) the relationship between three of the four proposed risk factors (depression, anxiety, and BPD traits) and NSSI frequency. No moderating effect of social support was found between the invalidating family environment and NSSI frequency. The results of the current study offer initial evidence of social support as a protective factor of NSSI. Additional research offering further clarification of social support's role is needed and may have important implications for the prevention and treatment of NSSI.