Survey: 17% Of Students Intentionally Injure Themselves

Published: June 6, 2006

CHICAGO – A survey conducted at Cornell and Princeton Universities indicates that almost one in five students at those institutions engage in self-abusive behavior, such as cutting, scratching and burning.

According to a recent Associated Press article, psychologists say that lately this type of behavior seems to be occurring not only at Ivy League schools, but more frequently at other universities, high schools and middle schools. Some students use it to relieve stress or show the inner emotional pain they are feeling.

Additionally, hundreds of Web sites now cover the subject, which many fear encourage the behavior.

The study was published in the June issue of Pediatrics and says 17 percent of the 2,875 male and female undergraduates surveyed admit to intentionally injuring themselves. Of that number, 70 percent say they had engaged in this behavior multiple times. Approximately 50 percent of self abusers reported they had been sexually, emotionally or physically abused.

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According to the Associated Press, those who repeatedly harm themselves were more likely to be suicidal, be female and have eating disorders. Many also have drug or alcohol dependency issues. Some researchers believe that self abuse may cause a rush of endorphins upon infliction, but then lead to shame.

According to the S.A.F.E (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives Web site, the typical onset of self-harming acts is at puberty. The behaviors often last for five to 10 years but can persist much longer without appropriate treatment.

Treatment includes therapy and keeping a journal of the things that trigger self abuse.

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