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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Teenagers Self-Cutting

This page abstract: Seven percent of teenagers harm themselves with knives or razor blades.

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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Teenagers Self-Cutting

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Question(s): 
Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 31 Jul 2008.

How many teenagers harm themselves with knives or razor blades? How common is cutting, self-mutilation and self-harm?

Answer:

A recent British survey by the Centre for Suicide Research at Oxford University reports that more than one teenager out of ten deliberately harm themselves!

This study of over 6000 pupils (age 15 to 16) showed that 10.3% experience self-aggressive behaviour (over 64% with cutting).

We know that girls have a higher prevalence of self-harm (up to 4 times more than boys). Experts believe that self-aggressive behaviour of girls is related to sexual abuse while boys more often may have suffered physical abuse.

Contrary to popular opinions these adolescents to not simply want attention or try to frighten someone. The most common reasons for self-aggressive behaviours are to get relief from a terrible state of mind or incredible feelings of tension and / or anxiety! Some of these adolescents also have suicide thoughts or would accept death as one possible consequence of self-harm. But this is only true for a minority of pupils.

The survey found that teenagers with low self-esteem, anxiety or depression, those who shut themselves in their room rather than talk things through, and those who believed they had few friends were more likely to hurt themselves.

Parents or other people who find that a teenager has harmed her/himself should try to offer help and empathy but also recognize that they were often the last people that their children would talk to.

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