Teen Social Media Posts About Cutting, Self-Harm Are Soaring

Along with other recent research, these results suggest that “self-injury affects a substantial number of people and that the rates could increase,” Giordano said.

“As the prevalence of self-injury increases,” she continued, “it’s no surprise that hashtags related to self-injury are also increasing on social media platforms.”

Giordano and his colleagues have found several indications that this is exactly what is happening.

For example, the team noted that while the #selfharm hashtag was hardly ever used in January 2018, as of December, it accompanied more than 45,000 teenage posts.

And at the end of the year, only one of the five NSSI tags highlighted – #selfharmmm – saw its overall usage drop.

As for what compels teens to share their experiences of self-harm on social media, Giordano suggested that they likely have several needs that they think apps like Instagram can meet.

And it might also reflect a risky copier phenomenon. The more teens see other people sharing articles about self-harm, the more curious they become and the more likely they are to imitate what they see and then share that experience online, Giordano said.

Whatever the primary motivation, the analysis raised a troubling concern: The two hashtags most commonly associated with those related to self-harm were #suicide and # depression.

“Therefore, it appears that people using hashtags related to self-harm associate them with suicidal thoughts as well as feelings of depression,” she said. “For me, that emphasizes the need to discuss mental health with young people and make sure they get the support they need.

This thought was supported by Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who reviewed the results.

“The significant increase in social media posts related to self-injury is a wake-up call not only to children and adolescents, but also to their parents and guardians,” he said.

Noting that “the reason for such an increase is complex,” Glatter suggested that self-injurious behaviors such as cutting “can be a cry for help and serve as a means of alerting relatives, friends and family. teachers of ongoing emotional pain and suffering. ”And, he added, feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety likely worsened once the COVID pandemic took hold.

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