Facts, Causes and Treatment of Self Harm in Teenagers
Self-harm is deliberately inflicting damage to one’s own body. The causes are many. According to researcher Dr. Nicola Madge of Child Psychology from Brunel University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Child and Youth Focused Research, self-harm is a widespread, mostly hidden or ignored, international problem. Most of the patients who inflict harm on themselves are girls with intentions to commit suicide. This article gives more information on this issue.
Statistics on Self-harm:
- A study was conducted across seven different European countries on this topic by the Child and Adolescent Self-harm Research group in Europe (CARE).
- According to their research, 59% of self-harmers wanted to die.
- 3 in ten girls and 1 in ten boys were found to possess this tendency.
- 25% of these self-harmers did not share this problem with anyone else.
- 12.4% of them did not seek medical help.
- These statistics suggested that the available data on self-harming patients is underestimated.
- Cutting the tissues of the body is the most common self-harm technique in both young boys and girls.
- 1 in every 5 incidences of self-harm is done under the influence of alcohol.
- 1 in 8 incidences of self-harm is performed under the influence of drugs.
- Teenage boys are more prone to doing extreme forms of self-harm than girls.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a book of guidelines that doctors follow to treat mental disorders in United States and others countries too. This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association. According to this manual, self-harm is a symptom of borderline personality disorder and depressive disorder.
Possible Causes of Self-harm:
Psychological: For many self-harmers, it is hard to explain their true feelings. They are misunderstood as being attention seekers. So, the patients indulge in physical pain to shift their attention from their emotional pain. When they injure themselves, the brain releases a chemical substance called an endorphin. It is our body’s natural painkiller. The relief provided by endorphins further encourages the patient to injure himself again.
Motives: People suffering intense emotional pain seek attention or sympathy desperately. Attempts of self-harm, serve this purpose well. But, there are also people who repeatedly harm themselves not for attention but to hide their wounds carefully.
Substances: There are some drugs and foods which can increase the risks of self-harm.
Custom: In some cultures, self-harm is a regular ritual practice to please the gods and seek blessings.
Treatment of Self-harm: There is uncertainty about the treatment procedures which can be effective in dealing with self-harm. Mostly, it has been found that self-harm patients suffer from moderate to severe depression. Based on this reasoning, self-harmers are given antidepressants. They are found to be effective in treating self-harming tendencies.