“It’s exciting, thrilling, and even self-gratifying?” Could this be the reason teens are mutilating their bodies at an alarming rate? Or could it be a more serious mental health issue at the core of this abnormal conduct? Why has maladaptive behaviors become popular online? Is it because we are a media driven culture? Although, it’s knows that self-mutilation is a legitimate concern for millions of teenagers it’s definitely not glamorous!  However, there are self mutilation videos with millions of views on YouTube which makes some wonder if this encourages others to harm themselves for “views” or popularity on Youtube as well.  This is a concern as it could cause some teens to hurt themselves more and go to extremes to draw a larger YouTube audience.

Courtney Love, Angelina Jolie, and even Princess Diana admitted to cutting and self-harm activities. Now, Disney superstar Demi Lovato admitted that she, too, is challenged with issues that involve cutting. With beauty, brains, and fame, why would these superstars engage in self-mutilating activity? The answer: Negative feelings about oneself, stress, and anxiety. Princess Diana once said, “You have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help.”
Jada Collins, MA, MS – CBS Interview on the Glamorous Life of Self-Injury with Jessica Sanchez

Discover Health and Medical Health America reports suggest that within the last ten years, over 2 million people have engaged in self-injury. This is an alarming statistic that appears to be gradually increasing with a series of You Tube videos that glamorize self-mutilation. Even though each cutting case presents differently, the same core issues remain consistent: rejection, abuse, stress, social pressure, and life problems. When cutting becomes a form of coping with internal conflict, it is important to understand that suicide is not the ultimate goal. Cutting, self-harm, and self-mutilation are known as Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI), which is the act of intentionally causing damage of body tissue. Self-Mutilation is completely unrelated to body art that include tattooing and piercing. In addition, these acts are not purposed to cause death.

What is Cutting?

Cutting is the act of injuring oneself using a sharp object to cut, scratch, or puncture the skin and body tissue deep enough to cause bleeding. This self-injury or self-mutilation behavior is mostly seen in girls between the ages of 13 and 19.

Why do Teen Girls Cut?

Lack of coping skills, To release negative feelings or thoughts, Depression, Anxiety, Anger, Self-criticism, To establish control in their lives, To punish themselves for feeling worthless, and/or To escape internal conflict for a moment.

What are the Signs?

  1. Self inflicted damage occurs for 5 or more days
  2. Look for arm bands that look like an accessory, but are there to cover the scabs or scars.
  3. Injuries induce bleeding, bruising, or pain
  4. Cutting, burning, stabbing, hitting, excessive rubbing
  5. Injuries are not social (tattooing and body piercing)
  6. There is no suicidal intent

 

8 Do’s & Don’ts with Self-Injury – What can parents do?

It is a natural response to attempt to discipline your child or react with anger. However, be careful about responding negatively and consider these tips for addressing this serious problem:

  1. Do not assume that your child id going through a “phase”
  2. Do not react with anger and frustration
  3. Do not blame yourself
  4. Do not attempt to punish
  5. Take the problem seriously
  6. Be willing to support your child
  7. Admit that your family needs help
  8. Seek professional help

Remember, Nonsuicidal self-injury is a behavioral sign of a more complicated internal issue. If you or someone you know are challenged with cutting or self-injury issues, contact a counselor or therapist.

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