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YouTube cutting and self-injury videos draw increasing number of viewers, study finds

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February 21, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Screen grab from www.youtube.com )

YouTube videos that show teens deliberately cutting and injuring themselves are viewed by millions of online watchers -- something a new study suggests might make these disturbing acts seem mainstream and normal.

The study, published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics, notes that nonsuicidal self-injury -- cutting or physically hurting oneself in some way -- consistently appears in about 14% to 24% percent of children, teens and young adults.

Researchers studied the top 100 videos of such acts on YouTube and found they had received more than 2 million page views. Viewers ranked some of them, some showing graphic videos or photos of injuries, as favorable.

"The nature of nonsuicidal self-injury videos on YouTube may foster normalization of nonsuicidal self-injury and may reinforce the behavior through regular viewing of nonsuicidal self-injury-themed videos," the study says. "Graphic videos showing nonsuicidal self-injury are frequently accessed and received positively by viewers." Here's an abstract of the study.

Clearly, fascination with these videos and whether this encourages others to take part needs to be examined more closely. HelpGuide.org offers a guide that says:

"Cutting and self-harm are often ways to express deep distress and cope with painful memories. And although you may want to stop, you may not know how to begin. Understanding why you self-harm can be a vital first step toward your recovery."

Some may think, "Eh, a few scars never hurt anyone." THAT, you should hesitate about.

RELATED: Call it 'self-injury,' call it 'cutting," but doctors need to recognize it

RELATED: Turning the hurt toward the self

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