As an article title, “The Scope of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury on YouTube” sounds like the kind of satire you’d hope to read in The Onion. In actuality, it’s the title of a recent study published by the medical journal Pediatrics. While most of us have known that cutting among teens (especially girls) has been a problem for some time now, I had no idea self-mutilation videos were going viral on the web.
CBS recapped the Pediatrics study, noting that the top 100 self-mutilation videos “had been viewed more than 2.3 million times and often got favorable ratings from viewers.” 64% of the videos showed cutting, the rest showed other types of self-mutilation such as burning. The intent of these videos is to glamorize self-injury, not discourage it. CBS reports, “They also feature haunting music and rich imagery that may attract young self-injurers and trigger the behavior, especially in those who have just started to self-injure.” (Think about the relationship pro-ana websites have to anorexia.)
It’s strange to me that I came across this study about cutting in the same week that I happened to watch Pink’s video for her latest release, “F**kin’ Perfect.” The explicit version of the song is accompanied by explicit imagery of self-mutilation, in which a troubled teen scrawls the word PERFECT into her arm with a razor blade. In defense of what some will surely dismiss as an attempt to shock, Pink says:
Cutting, and suicide, two very different symptoms of the same problem, are gaining on us. (the problem being; alienation and depression. the symptoms; cutting and suicide). I personally don’t know a single person who doesn’t know at least two of these victims personally. A lot of us have seen certain starlets showing off their latest scars on a red carpet somewhere, usually right before they head back to their favorite rehab.
Its a problem, and its something we should talk about.
Experts seem to agree. Dr. Jennifer Hartstein says parents need to talk to their kids – boys and girls alike – about self-mutilation, and even get on YouTube and watch some of the videos. She told staff Monday on the CBS Early Show, kids who cut themselves are trying to “regulate emotion.” She continued, “They feel something so intensely that the self-injury actually modulates emotion for them, rather than a healthier coping skill like you and I might have of going running or going to the gym or something like that.”
I haven’t had the heart to actually seek out the YouTube videos examined in the Pediatrics study (no graphic content in link), because honestly the imagery in Pink’s “Perfect” video (graphic content in link) is still haunting me two days later.
Pink wrote to her fans on her site (no graphic content in link) about how her pregnancy has changed her, and the ways in which impending motherhood informed the making of this video. She says:
Making this video was a very emotional experience for me, as was writing this song. I have a life inside of me, and I want her or him to know that I will accept him or her with open and loving and welcoming arms. And though I will prepare this little munchkin for a sometimes cruel world, I will also equip this kid to see all the beauty in it as well. There are good people in this world that are open-minded, and loving. There are those that accept us with all of our flaws. I do that with my fans/friends, and I will do that with my child, whoever they decide to be.
She then directs her fans to visit the To Write Love on Her Arms site, “a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.” There is no graphic content on the TWLOHA site, and it’s definitely worth a visit for anyone who wants to educate themselves on what seems to be a growing problem. I’m thinking of attending their conference in April in NYC. Have you gotten involved?
Source: CBS News