Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Cindy L. Juntunen


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a behavior being seen with increasing frequency among clinicians and the general population. Internet forums where people who engage in the behavior may discuss topics related to NSSI have become widespread. The effects of those websites on people who engage in the behavior have not been researched. This study used structural equation modeling to better understand the relationship between identification with these groups, time online, comfort discussing NSSI, social support, and psychological distress. The final model suggests a complicated relationship between Internet use and offline effects. Identification with such an online group appears to lead to both increases in feelings of social support and increases in psychological distress. Also, the model indicates that comfort with discussing NSSI leads to increased feelings of social support, decreased loneliness, and decreased psychological distress. However, time spent online may both decrease social problems and increase psychological distress. Implications and limitations of the study are also discussed.