Self-Injury: Why Young People Do It and Where to Go for Help

Self-Injury: Why Young People Do It and Where to Go for Help

An alarming number of young people cut or burn themselves to cope with emotional pain. A new study on the prevalence of self-injury videos on the Internet worries mental health experts. What's behind the phenomenon and where to find help.

A surprising number of Americans seek relief from emotional pain through self-injury or mutilation. They cut, burn or strike themselves, often hiding their wounds beneath their clothing. These actions are not suicide attempts, but rather efforts to cope with psychological trauma and stress, and sometimes physical or sexual abuse. Up to a quarter of teenagers and young adults have intentionally hurt themselves at least once. And mental health experts are worried the Internet is causing the phenomenon to spread. We'll talk with psychologists who study and treat the condition and a young woman who has recovered.

Guests

Stephen Lewis

assistant professor of clinical psychology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Lisa Diamond-Raab

a Washington, D.C., psychotherapist who has treated more than 700 young people for self-injury.

Rebecca X

a young woman who engaged in self-injurious behavior as a teenager and now works as a nurse; she requested that we use only part of her real name.

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The Diane Rehm Show is produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.