While extant research indicates an inverse association between self-compassion and mindfulness with non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs), estimates of magnitude remain unknown. The present systematic review and meta-analysis aim to quantify the relationship between self-compassion and mindfulness with engagement in NSSI and STBs.
Literature searches in four electronic databases (PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Scopus, ProQuest Dissertations, and Theses Global) were conducted. Effect sizes were estimated using pooled correlation coefficients and a random effects model. Meta-regressions with mixed-effect models were used to determine the moderators of the associations.
Sixty-eight independent samples from 62 different articles (N = 53,797) met inclusion criteria. Analyses yielded a medium negative correlation between self-compassion and mindfulness with both NSSI and STBs. Among mindfulness facets, the nonjudging, acting with awareness, and describing facets demonstrated the largest significant correlations with both STBs and NSSI. The self-coldness dimension (vs self-warmth dimension) of self-compassion demonstrated the largest correlation to STBs. There was a stronger negative correlation between self-compassion and mindfulness with engagement in NSSI and STBs in adolescent samples (than in clinical and college student samples) and with STBs’ recency (reported within the past 12 months vs lifetime). Associations between NSSI and STBs with self-compassion and mindfulness were greater in lower-quality studies and studies with younger or male samples, although effect sizes remained modest.
Findings suggest that self-compassion and mindfulness may buffer against NSSI and STBs. Future study regarding the efficacy and effectiveness of self-compassion and mindfulness-based interventions among NSSI and STB populations is warranted.