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Self-harming Among Teens More Common Than Thought

ms of NSSI including cutting skin, burning skin, giving self a tattoo, scraping skin, or using a pencil to erase skin.

The researchers note it was important to distinguish between minor and moderate/severe forms of self-injury, since severe forms of NSSI may be predictive of more serious outcomes. Minor forms of NSSI consisted of behaviours such as pulling out hair, biting self, or picking at areas of the body to the point of drawing blood. Moderate/severe self-injurers were more likely than minor self-injurers to report a history of psychiatric treatment and hospitalizations, suicide attempt, and current suicide ideation.

Results from the study also indicated that the most common reasons teens in the study engaged in NSSI included to get control of a situation, to stop bad feelings, and to try and get a reaction from someone.

This suggests that adolescents are engaging in NSSI for several reasons, including both regulating their own internal emotional states and trying to manage situations in their environment, said Lloyd-Richardson.

Once thought of as a phenomenon only found in teens with mental health issues, the results support the notion that many adolescents in the community are self-harming as way to cope with emotional distress, she added.

Accordingly, intervention efforts should be tailored to the individual and contribute to building alternative skills for positive coping, communication, stress management, and strong social support, the authors note.

While there remains few proven treatments for NSSI, understanding the specific motivations behind an adolescents behaviour namely to influence the behaviours of others, as well as to manage their own internal emotions as our study shows - allows for the development of an individual treatment plan that could help prevent future episodes, she said.

In this study, no gender, race, or age differences were noted i
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