A new study on graphic self-injury Internet videos is creating a lot of buzz among experts and parents.
Researchers examined the top 100 videos that came up when typing in the key words “self-injury” and “self-harm” on YouTube. They found that the videos had been viewed more than 2 million times.
They warn that the popularity of these videos may normalize destructive behaviors among teens. About 14 percent of young people engage in self-harm such as cutting or burning themselves.
Dr. Sarah Rosenbaum from the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment shares this concern, especially for young people who might be at risk for these behaviors.
“Teens and pre-teens are very subject to influences from what they see their peers doing, whether that’s in the bathroom at school, or in the movies like ‘Black Swan.’ for instance, or online,” she said. “Many of the young people we see here at Belmont report that they learned about a self-harming behavior from something they saw on screen somewhere.”.
Jonathan Singer, a Temple University social work professor, says the study sheds light on an online community of people who typically hide their behaviors. He believes that just watching the videos will not pose a danger to otherwise healthy teens:
“The videos wouldn’t get somebody who doesn’t cut to start engaging in it, but it might encourage somebody who is already doing that to either do it more intensely, more frequently, or even more publicly by videotaping and posting it on YouTube themselves,” he said.
Rosenbaum says those engaging in these behaviors typically have underlying mental health issues. They say it temporarily relieves intensely painful emotions.
Those seeking help for self-injury behaviors can call the DBT hotline at 215-581-3973.