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Self Harm Behavior in Teens

December 09, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Self-injury, also known as “cutting,” “self-harm,” self-mutilation” or “non-suicidal self-injury,” is a common issue that occurs in teens and young adults.  It’s difficult to estimate exactly how many teens self-injure and studies vary widely, but as many as one-in-four teens may self-injure.  Most forms of self-injury are not linked to suicidal acts.

Reasons for self-injury vary, but often overwhelming emotions trigger self-harm behaviors.  Extreme stress, sadness or anxiety might be present.  Sometimes teens also report self-harming in order to feel something over feelings of emotional numbness they may be experiencing.  Self-injury becomes a coping mechanism, however unhealthy, for dealing with very distressing situations.

While self-injury may be a learned coping behavior, it can be unlearned as well.  Therapy can teach a teen or adult more healthy ways of dealing with overwhelming emotions and stress.

For more information on self-injury, see the Cornell University research program on self-injury and recovery

If you, or someone you know, is seeking help with self-injury or self-harming behavior, please contact the psychologists at Verdant Oak Behavioral Health(VOBH) in South Pasadena, CA at 323-345-1402 or via our website at www.VOBH.org.


 



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