Associations between humiliation, shame, self-harm and suicidal behaviours among adolescents and young adults: A systematic review protocol

Posted on 23.11.2022 - 19:00


Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people worldwide and remains a major public health concern. Research indicates that negative social contexts involving familial and peer relationships, have far-reaching influences on levels of suicidal behaviours in later life. Previous systematic reviews have focused on evaluating associations between negative life events such as abuse and bullying in childhood and subsequent self-harm or suicidality. However, the association between adolescent experiences of humiliation and shame, and subsequent self-harm or suicidal behaviour among children and young adults has not been well examined. As such, this systematic review is conducted to examine the prevalence and association between humiliation and shame and self-harm, suicidal ideation, and death by suicide among adolescents and young adults.


A systematic literature search in extant electronic databases including; MEDLINE, Web of Science Core Collection, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Embase will be conducted to identify potential studies. Google Scholar, and the reference list of the retrieved articles and/or previous systematic reviews in this area, will also be scanned to identify further potential studies. ProQuest will be searched to identify relevant studies available within grey literature. There are no restrictions on the date of publications. Based on our initial review, the following terms were identified: Population: Adolescent (MESH), young adult (MESH), teen, teenage. Exposure: Humiliation, degradation, shame (MESH) or embarrassment (MESH), harassment victimisation, abasement. Outcome: Self-injurious behaviour (MESH), suicide (MESH), suicide attempted (MESH), suicide completed (MESH), self-harm, intentional self-injury, deliberate self-harm, overdose, deliberate self-poisoning, non-suicidal self-injury, self-mutilation, suicidal thought, suicidal ideation, suicidal intent, suicide. At least one term from each category will be used for conducting the literature search. All original quantitative studies published in the English language which examined the prevalence or association between humiliation or shame and self-harm and/or suicidal ideation and/or completed suicide will be included. The studies will be assessed for methodological quality using the Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tools. Narrative synthesis will be performed for all of the studies. If the studies are sufficiently homogenous, the results will be pooled for a meta-analysis. This systematic review protocol followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis Protocol (PRISMA-P) guidelines. The protocol has been registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) [CRD42022289843].


This is the first review to synthesise evidence on the prevalence of, and associations between the experiences of humiliation and shame and subsequent self-harm and/or suicidal behaviours among adolescents and young adults. As there is growing evidence on increased self-harm among this age group, it is important to identify population-specific risk factors for self-harm and suicidality which will have significance in formulating tailored and effective treatment and therapeutic services for adolescents and young adults.


McLoughlin, Aoibheann; Sadath, Anvar; McMahon, Elaine; Kavalidou, Katerina; Malone, Kevin (2022): Associations between humiliation, shame, self-harm and suicidal behaviours among adolescents and young adults: A systematic review protocol. PLOS ONE. Collection.
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