Self-Injury in Teen Girls

By , Indianapolis, IN
It was the middle of one of those sweltering summers, when the day begins and ends with a hot, humid, sticky feeling. Anna, however, was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. Just like she had been for the past three months. When asked why she was dressed so oddly, Anna would simply reply that she was cold. But of course, this was not the case. Whenever Anna was overwhelmingly sad or angry, she would cut herself on her arms or legs. Anna was ashamed of her cuts, but couldn’t find the courage to tell her family that she was hurting herself on purpose. Purposely inflicting pain on your self is referred to as self-harm. Self-harm has always been an issue, however, it is just now getting attention from the media. Anyone can expose themselves to self-harm, however, teenage girls are the majority of the people who do so.

Self-harm is also referred to as self-injury, self-mutilation, and self-injurious behavior syndrome. (associatedcontent.com) Common types of self-mutilation include: Skin-scratching, cutting, burning, carving, picking, and hair pulling. Wrists, arms, stomachs, and legs are common places for people to cut or burn. Self- mutilation is a way for some teens to cope with pain, intense pressure, or other strong emotions including depression. When interviewed, Gina Fannin stated, “Physical pain can be a temporary escape from emotional pain.” Teens that self-injure may not have the coping skills to deal with their emotions in a healthy way. Inflicting pain on themselves in turn. “When emotions don’t get expressed in a healthy way, tension can build up- sometimes to a point where it seems almost unbearable.” (teenshealth.org) Cutting can be a way to relieve this pain, or even gain control of a situation.

Self-injury tends to start in the early years of adolescence; between the ages of 13-16. (teenbreaks.com) Teen girls are more likely to self-mutilate due to the fact that they are more sensitive than their male peers. Not only are they dealing with hormonal changes, the media is ambushing girls to look, act, and be a certain way to be accepted by society. This is an added stress on day to day life, and girls may not be able to handle this mixture of emotions at once. Girls today are forced to grow up faster, while still facing the challenges that others deal with at their age. Self inflicting injuries are a way, for some teens, to have some aspect of controlling their own lives. The teenage years are a time between childhood and adulthood, and many things that are familiar suddenly change.

People who do not openly accept change may find themselves depressed or often anxious. As a gateway to coping with these unmanaged emotions, girls may start to harm themselves.
Many people who self-harm try to hide injuries so others will not see what has happened. Ways of hiding injuries include: covering scars with jewelry, wearing long clothing, and lieing about how scars appear. Self injury can become very addictive. Once someone starts to injure themselves repeatedly, they may feel as if they can only cope with the physical pain that comes with mutilation. People can repeatedly harm themselves to the point that they may go too far and die. Teens who cut themselves are at risk of gaining blood borne illnesses and other infections. Teens that self-injur could not only be effected physically but socially. People who self mutilate tend to isolate themselves from their peers. Therefore, loosing people who could have helped.

If girls are taught healthy coping skills at an early age, the percentage of teens that use self mutilation as an outlet for their emotions could drop dramatically. When people are younger, they learn habits that they then build on as they continue to grow. If younger children learn healthy coping skills in elementary school, unhealthy coping skills could be eliminated by the time that child reaches high school. However, if a teen needs help, there are a many ways to get it. Medications, such as antidepressants, can help with the underlying problems that are causing the self-harm. A self-mutilator should also seek professional help, such as therapy, to help with the source of the self- harm. When asked what advice he would give to someone who self-mutilates, Robert Riggles said, “(I would)… Encourage them to be connected to a network of liability (a counselor, doctor, etc.) Find healthier and safer coping skills. Surround themselves with trusted, reliable, caring friends.” Teen girls are going through a tough time. They shouldn’t add an addictive, dangerous habit to their already troubled lives.





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bugnikki said...
Sept. 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm
Reading that i kinda hate myself for cutting. Because all of its mostally true. GREAT JOB  I bet you got a A on the paper
 
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