One trend that’s been increasing in recent years among our nations youth is self-mutilation which is defined as purposeley inflicting injury on one’s own body without obvious suicidal intent in ways that aren’t socially acceptable.
A common but misguided belief is that self-injury is done with intent to kill ones self, the fact is though, that it is actually a preventative measure to keep from committing suicide. When a person feels they are no longer in control of their life and that they have no one they can turn to, that can manifest itself in dangerous and unhealthy ways.
According to research by headspace.org, self-harm is more common in females than males. Over 41 percent of the people surveyed started between the ages of 17-22.
A survey done by researchers affiliated with Princeton and Cornell University concluded that roughly 17 percent of college students engage in self-harm. 75 percent reported that they’ve hurt themselves on more than one occasion.
The practices most common among college students are scratching and cutting. Other common practices are biting, punching, carving words into one’s body parts, burning and pulling one’s own hair out.
And though it’s expected of young adults to drink in college, there is a difference between alcohol dependency and just drinking to have a good time. If you are habitually using drugs and alcohol as means of dealing with stress, it is considered self-harm.
More extreme behavior likely to have permanent consequences includes the removal of teeth, self-castration, setting oneself on fire and consuming household chemicals like bleach but luckily, these cases are rare.
A serious problem with the increase is that researchers aren’t sure why it’s on the upswing. Pop culture fixtures such as Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Princess Diana and Russell Brand have all admitted to self-harm. Some suspect that bringing attention to the problem especially through the use of social media might make it appear trendy.
In fact, there are Tumblr blogs dedicated to providing methods of starving and injuring one’s self. Written into the terms and conditions on most social networks, admins who run the site are supposed to take down graphic images of this nature. Unfortunately, users find ways around this.
Though for most people, self-injury is a temporary coping mechanism lasting for only a few years, there are still a lot of people who continue these dangerous practices for decades therefore making it more unlikely that they will stop.
“The figures showing that 90 percent have stopped by the time they reach their twenties should not seduce us into thinking that self-harm is just a phase that young people will grow out of,” said Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE. We’re going to have to look out for our youth.
If you suspect anyone of intentionally harming him or herself, the worst thing to do would be to scold them. It will make them feel worse since what often ensues after self-injury is regret.
Some signs of self injury include wearing long sleeves even in the heat, bloody shirt sleeves or tissues, unexplained bruises or scars, the possession of multiple sharp objects and negative statements pertaining to one’s self-worth or existence.
There has to be more mental health services and workshops. There have been flyers for workshops around the Los Medanos College campus before, but it’s still a subject people appear to be ignorant about. For self-harm support and info, visit selfinjury.com.