Self-Harm: Identifying and Supporting Teens Who Intentionally Hurt Themselves

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For some students, stresses in their lives can lead to dangerous behavior, such as intentional self-injuries
Juliana Kerrest started hurting herself when she was 13 years old. Juliana said the first time it happened was almost ““an accident.”  Juliana, who had suffered from depression since she was 10, was upset, noticed a toothpick nearby, and began scratching herself with it, “without thinking” about it.  Over time, the scratching turned into cutting, and then progressed to burning and hitting. In high school, Juliana cut herself several times per week, sometimes more than once per day. In college, her self-injuries were less frequent but more severe. She bears the scars today.

Juliana, now 27, said that in middle and high school the cutting was a way to express anger and punish herself, but in college she used it as a way to “snap out of” feeling depressed, dazed or unable to focus. But during all of the years she was hurting herself, not a single adult who she hadn’t already told about her problem saw the marks and asked about them.

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