Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Alarming Statistic: Student Self-Mutilation On The Rise

This is disturbing:
Nearly 1 in 5 students at two Ivy League schools say they have purposely injured themselves by cutting, burning or other methods, a disturbing phenomenon that psychologists say they are hearing about more often.

For some young people, self-abuse is an extreme coping mechanism that seems to help relieve stress; for others it’s a way to make deep emotional wounds more visible.

The results of the survey at Cornell and Princeton are similar to other estimates on this frightening behavior. Counselors say it’s happening at colleges, high schools and middle schools across the country.

Separate research found more than 400 Web sites devoted to subject, including many that glorify self-injury. Some worry that many sites serve as an online subculture that fuels the behavior — although whether there has been an increase in the practice or just more awareness is unclear.

Sarah Rodey, 20, a University of Illinois student who started cutting herself at age 16, said some online sites help socially isolated kids feel like they belong. One of her favorites includes graphic photographs that the site warns might be “triggering.”

“I saw myself in some of those pictures, in the poems. And because I saw myself there, I wanted to connect to it better” by self-injuring, Rodey said.

The latest prevalence estimate comes from an analysis of responses from 2,875 randomly selected male and female undergraduates and graduate students at Cornell and Princeton who completed an Internet-based mental health survey.

Seventeen percent said they had purposely injured themselves; among those, 70 percent had done so multiple times. The estimate is comparable to previous reports on U.S. adolescents and young adults, but slightly higher than studies of high school students in Australia and the United Kingdom.
There's much more to read in the whole thing.

Our 14-year-old daughter, the TeenWonk, says that she personally knows several girls who engage in these behaviors. According to the TeenWonk, their parents are totally unaware of the situation.

And yes, we do keep our own eyes wide-open...
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