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One in 12 Teens Engages in Self-Harm: Report
Date:11/17/2011

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- One in 12 teens deliberately harm themselves, but 90 percent give up the behavior by the time they're young adults, a new study shows.

Self-harm, which includes cutting and burning, is one of the strongest predictors of suicide and is especially common among females aged 15 to 24, according to a news release from The Lancet, where the finding appears Nov. 16 online.

In this study, researchers followed a group of young people in Victoria, Australia, from 1992 to 2008. The participants' average age was 15 in 1992-93 and 29 in 2008.

Of the 1,802 participants who took part while they were teens, 149 (8 percent) reported self-harm. More girls (10 percent) than boys (6 percent) reported self-harm. There was a substantial decline in self-harm during the late teens and by age 29, fewer than 1 percent of the participants reported self-harm.

Of the 1,652 participants who took part both when they were teens and young adults, 136 reported self-harm while they were teens. Of those 136 participants, 122 (90 percent) reported no self-harm in young adulthood and 14 (10 percent) reported continuing self-harm (13 females and one male).

Cutting and burning were the most common form of self-harm among teens. Other forms of self-harm included self-battery and poisoning/overdose. No single type of self-harm was most common among young adults.

Among teens, symptoms of depression and anxiety were associated with a 3.7 times increased risk of self harm, cigarette smoking was associated with a 2.4 times increased risk, antisocial behavior and high-risk alcohol use were associated with a doubling of risk and marijuana use was associated with a near-doubling of risk.

Young adults who had depression or anxiety when they were teens were about six times more likely to self-harm, compared to those who had no depression and anxiety when they were teens.

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