YouTube Provides Potential Danger and Hope for Teens Struggling with Self-Injury

You can find anything on the Internet if you know where to look and self-injury or self-harm is no exception.  According to a new study, YouTube, the popular online video-sharing site, is home to hundreds of videos about self-harm, videos that include graphic images of self-cutting.  Researchers are worried the videos, which are not age restricted in most cases, may inspire copycats. “The Internet in general, and YouTube, in particular, offers novel ways to reach a greater number of youth who may otherwise not openly discuss their non-suicidal self-injury with others,” the researchers wrote. The study, “The Scope of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury on YouTube,” published in Pediatrics, focused on the 100 most watched self-harm videos on YouTube, but the researchers identified more than 5,000. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders says that intentional injury is often associated with “negative feelings or thoughts, such as depression, anxiety, tension, anger, generalized distress, or self-criticism.”  The researchers found that females uploaded 95 percent of the self-harm videos posted on YouTube. According to MedPageToday, the study’s authors also have unpublished research that shows that images of self-injury may prompt those who practice self-harm to injure themselves.