A survey of 3,069 students on the campuses of Cornell University and Princeton University, has arrived at a conclusion that some might find shocking: Fully 17 percent of these Ivy League college students have cut, burned, carved or otherwise harmed themselves. Less than 7 percent have ever sought medical help for their self-inflicted injuries.
The study by researchers at Cornell and Princeton is billed as the largest study on self-injurious behavior (SIB) in the United States to date. "Self-injurious behavior is defined as inflicting harm to one's body without the obvious intent of committing suicide," Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behaviors in the Family Life Development Center (FLDC) at Cornell and lead author of the study, said in a news release. SIB also may include such behaviors as ripping or pulling skin or hair, biting, bruising and breaking bones, she said.
They are also coming together on the Internet. "Internet message boards provide a powerful vehicle for bringing self-injurious adolescents together, and to a great extent, they provide a safe forum and a source of valuable support for teens who might otherwise feel marginalized and who may be struggling with shame," said Whitlock. However, while the majority of the postings are supportive in nature, some reinforce self-injury behaviors and could create a "social contagion" effect, the researchers warned.