Self-injury is prevalent among college students

Maytinee Kramer/Staff Writer

It’s amazing what long sleeves and fake smiles can hide. People often keep their habit a secret, but the urge to self-harm isn’t uncommon, especially in adolescents and young adults.

According to Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behaviors in the Family Life Development Center, and lead author of the study, published in the June issue of Pediatrics, “Self-injurious behavior is defined as inflicting harm to one’s body without the obvious intent of committing suicide.”

The most common form of self-harm is using a sharp object to cut one’s skin, but it also covers a wide range of behaviors including burning, scratching, banging or hitting body parts. Hurting yourself —or thinking about hurting yourself— is a sign of emotional distress, and can grow more intense if a person continues to use it as a coping mechanism.

Self-harm can help a person feel as if they are in control, reducing any uncomfortable feelings of tension or distress they may have. Self-harm is not a mental illness, but more of a behavior that indicates a lack of coping skills.

Personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, anxiety or post-traumatic distress disorder is often associated with self-injury, putting people who have experienced trauma, neglect or abuse at risk.

Many times, self-harm can feel like a release to someone who has no other outlet of expressing anger, frustration or pain. For others, self-injury may be a reflection of self hatred, asking for help in an indirect way, or attempting to affect others by manipulating them.

According to the Cornell Research Program on Self-injury and Recovery, 12 percent to 24 percent of young people in secondary school and young adult populations have self-injured. This is probably because younger people face more stressful situations than in the past and possess fewer coping mechanisms.

Despite these numbers, most self-injurers do not seek help from medical or mental health professionals. Many may be aware that they have a problem, but do not have the courage to tell anyone about it due to shame, embarrassment, or even guilt.

According to the Cornell Chronicle, one in five indicated they had injured themselves more severely than they intended on at least one occasion, and one in four of repeat self-injurers said they had hurt themselves so badly that they should have seen a physician.

There are many effective treatments for self-harm that can allow a person to feel in control again. The first step in getting help is talking to a trusted adult, friend or medical professional who is familiar with the subject. At FIU, the Counseling and Psychological Services Department provides mental health services and consultation to students that will facilitate and enhance their emotional well-being.

As a fellow student part of the Panther community, it may be a hard subject to understand, but the best thing one can do it be prepared to listen, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to remind the person that while you may not fully understand, you’ll be there to help.

 

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

 

Image retrieved from Flickr.

About the Author

Maytinee Kramer
Call me May. I’m a senior double majoring in Asian studies and broadcast media and minoring in international relations. I’m a K-pop and Disney junkie, but I also enjoy watching anime and cosplaying. Some of my favorite shows are “Once Upon a Time,” “Supernatural,” and “Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma” while my favorite music artists are 2PM, GOT7, DEAN and Eddy Kim. After college, I hope to work as a news anchor, but I’d eventually like to host a show/segment that focuses on traveling. I am fluent in Thai and currently learning Japanese and Korean.

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