Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International journal of environmental research and public health





PubMed ID





School of Medical and Health Sciences




National Health and Medical Research Council

Grant Number

NHMRC Number : APP1195086

Grant Link


Islam, M. I., Sharwood, L., Chadwick, V., Esgin, T., & Martiniuk, A. (2022). Protective factors against self-harm and suicidality among Australian Indigenous adolescents: A strengths-based analysis of the longitudinal study of Indigenous children. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(15), 9131.


Background: Understanding and encouraging social and emotional well-being (SEWB) among Indigenous adolescents is vital in countering the impacts of colonisation and intergenerational trauma. As self-harm and suicidality are considered markers of poor SEWB among Indigenous communities, we aimed to identify the individual-level and community-level factors protecting Indigenous adolescents from self-harm and suicidality. Methods: Data came from Footprints in Time—The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (waves 10 and 11), conducted among Indigenous families across Australia. A strengths-based analysis fitted multilevel logistic regression to explore associations with factors proposed as protective against self-reported self-harm and suicidality among Indigenous adolescents. Results: Our study cohort included 365 adolescents with complete data for the variables of interest. Adolescents had a mean (SD) age of 14.04 (0.45) years and a sex ratio of almost 1:1, and most were attending school (96.2 %). Previous self-harm was reported by 8.2 % (n = 30); previous suicidality was reported by 4.1% (n = 15). Individual-level factors protecting against self-harm and suicidality were being male, living in a cohesive family, and having low total Strengths and Difficulty Questionnaire scores (p < 0.05 for all). Residing in major cities compared with regional/remote areas was protective against self-harm (OR 5.94, 95 % CI 1.31–26.81). Strong cultural identity was not found to be a protective factor against self-harm and/or suicidality in the sample. Conclusions: This study identified key individual- and community-level factors that can protect Australian Indigenous adolescents against self-harm and suicidality, particularly family cohesion. Identifying strengths for this at-risk population can inform prevention strategies, particularly for rural living adolescents with high distress.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Included in

Public Health Commons