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Entries in Self-Mutilation (3)

Monday
Jun112012

Self-Injury Reported in Children as Young as 7

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Self-harm practices such as cutting and hitting can begin in children as young as age 7, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Research suggests that many adolescents and adults engage in self-injury as a means to self-medicate for stress and depression.  But findings from this study now warn to look out for these behaviors as early as elementary school.

"For a parent, for a teacher and for a medical professional, part of the message is to recognize that kids at younger ages are harming themselves," said Benjamin Hankin, associate professor of psychology at University of Denver in Colorado.  "There's this view that only older kids do this, but parents should pay attention to the emotion and behavior problems earlier."

Hankin and his colleagues interviewed 665 children in third, sixth, and ninth grades.  Nearly 8 percent of the children reported at least one attempt to harm themselves, the study found.

More specifically, nearly 8 percent of the third graders interviewed reported at least one attempt at self-harm.

Some of the signs to look for in younger children include extreme frustration that can lead to incidents such as hitting their heads against the wall, Hankin said.

"The signs and what you're looking for can change based on age and gender of the kid," he said.

Girls were three times more likely to self-injure than boys once they reached the ninth grade, the study found.  Girls reported more cutting and carving of skin, while boys were more likely to report hitting themselves.  Hankin warned parents to be aware of the risks of self-injury in earlier childhood.

"An important thing for parents is to follow their gut instinct," he said.  "If you think your child is experiencing emotional pain, then ask."

"Sometimes they may deny it, but parents shouldn't shrug it off," said Hankin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov172011

Study: 1 in 12 Teens Deliberately Cut, Hurt Themselves

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- At age 14 or 15, a perfect storm of surging hormones, immature brains and unfamiliar emotions drive nearly one in 12 teens to deliberately hurt themselves, most often by cutting or burning their own flesh, or by trying to hang, electrocute, drown or suffocate themselves.

"The window of vulnerability for this experience of self-harm appears to open at around puberty," said Dr. Paul Moran, co-author of a study about self-harm published online Wednesday in The Lancet.

Teens, he said, may hurt themselves to block out emotions "they feel to be intolerable."  At particular risk, he said, were teens "on a fast-track to adulthood, those kids who are at the margins at school, who are engaged in early sexual activities, who are using alcohol and drugs at a young age."

Families, educators and even self-injuring youngsters may be relieved to hear that in 90 percent of cases, these frightening, aberrant practices resolve on their own, said Dr. Niall Boyce, a psychiatrist and senior editor of The Lancet.

Moran, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, and co-author Dr. George C. Patton, from the Center for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, said they believed theirs was the first large study to trace "the natural history" of self-harming behavior from its onset in puberty through young adulthood.  They pointed out that self-inflicted deaths, including suicides, rise sharply during that same period.

The study's researchers studied a random group of nearly 2,000 school children, ages 14 and 15, in the Australian state of Victoria, from August 1992 through January 2008.  Over the course of those 15 years, and on as many as nine occasions, the students answered questions to assess if, and how often, they'd engaged in self-harm.

Moran said their answers, and the years of observing them, yielded several important insights:

-- Self-harm is common, reported by about 8 percent of 14- to 19-year-olds.

-- At every stage, more girls reported self-harm than boys.

-- Those who cut, burned or otherwise deliberately hurt themselves were more likely to be seriously depressed or anxious, and to report smoking, drinking or abusing drugs.  Similarly, a small subgroup of students who began hurting themselves as young adults were more likely to report having been depressed or anxious as teenagers.

-- The proportion of young men and women reporting self-harm substantially declined as they aged.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb212011

YouTube Vids on Cutting: Harmful or Helpful?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ONTARIO, Canada) -- YouTube provides easy access to videos of almost anything, but what is the impact on viewers, especially younger viewers, when "anything" includes hundreds of photos, video clips and montages of self-harming behaviors such as cutting and self-mutilation?

In a study that analyzed the videos, Canadian researchers found that the 100 most popular videos portraying self-harm on YouTube have been viewed more than 2 million times and selected as "favorite" more than 12,000 times, triggering concern over what kind of impact the sharing and viewing of these videos may be having on those at risk for self-injurious behavior.

"We found that very few videos actually encourage self-injury," says the lead author on the study, Stephen Lewis of the University of Guelph in Ontario. "Most were neutral or hopeful for overcoming this issue.”

Concerned for the potential risks, YouTube contacted researchers and has since removed the videos they considered inappropriate content, Lewis says.

Self-injury behavior, which, in the videos, most often took the form of self-cutting, is known as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) because while it involves the deliberate destruction of one's own body tissue, it is not necessarily driven by a desire for suicide. Often, self-harmers report that cutting is a form of coping with emotional pain and that the act of inflicting pain on themselves provides powerful momentary relief from mental distress, says Kim Gratz, director of personality disorders research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Though it's hard to gauge the prevalence of this behavior, Gratz says that studies find that between 17 and 40 percent of college students admit to committing self harm and between 15 and 30 percent of high school students do.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio