Wednesday, March 28, 2007
1 in 6 self-injure
One in six US adolescents are inflicting injury on themselves, according to research by Stony Brook University psychology professor David Klonsky, and the number is rising. Reuters reports that his study "involved interviews with about 40 students who self-injure" and an analysis of 30 years of research on self-inflicted cutting and burning. He found the behavior is "often linked to depression but not suicide" (the latter a fairly common misconception), and it's a coping mechanism. One of his interviewees told Professor Klonsky that cutting distracted her from her emotional anguish (her brother had gone to prison and her father to serve in the US military in Iraq). Klonsky says this has become a major problem in schools in the US, Britain, and Australia. Though the behavior is usually solitary and secretive, like involvement in eating disorders, it can find the wrong kind of reinforcement online - as well as help (see "The social Web's 'Lifeline'"). Meanwhile, parents might also want to read a New York Times report on "the choking game": "Asphyxiation games have been around for many years, [but] a series of locally publicized deaths around the country over the last few years, coupled with a realization that teenagers are seeing the game on Internet sites like YouTube, and playing it in more threatening variations - more often ... alone with a rope - are sparking a vigorous and open discussion in schools and among parents' groups, summer camp administrators and doctors."