Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Dispelling the myth: the reality of self-mutilation

There is a new trend these days among the young and depressed. No, it’s not dressing all in black and wearing white face make-up (that is so 1996). It is Self-mutilation, also known as self-injury. Self Mutilation is the intentional act of one’s own will to cause them bodily harm. According to a study done in 1995 by Suyemoto and Macdonald, 18,000 out of 100,000 15-35 year olds surveyed, self mutilate. This means that a majority of self-mutilators are college students just like you and me.

Though self mutilation can affect any race, gender or social class, it is most likely for them to be a female with an average to above average intelligence and comes from middle to upper class home.

As with any mental affliction there are misconceptions about what it is and what it is not. Some think that people cut themselves for attention. This is false. Self-mutilators usually harm themselves in private and often hurt themselves in places that can easily be covered up by clothing i.e. the arms or the stomach.

Self mutilators are dangerous to others, don’t make me laugh. This too is false. The key word is SELF. It is SELF-mutilation not people-mutilation. People who self mutilate are no harm to other – they are only a threat to themselves. Which brings me to the next myth – self-mutilations are pitiful attempts at suicides.

BEEP, that is incorrect. Suicide and self-mutilation are done for two entirely different reasons. People who self-mutilate do it to punish themselves and as a way to express emotions, in particular anger. Suicide is done to end your life. People who self-mutilate want to live and on occasion harming themselves make them feel more alive.

The most common form is Moderate self-mutilation. This consists of cutting, burning, picking at wounds and bone breaking. The most known and practiced one of the aforementioned methods is cutting. According to a study conducted in 1988 (most recent statistics I could find on this specific attribute of self mutilation), 72 percent of self mutilators were cutters. Of the 72 percent of people who cut, I have witnessed the results of one person’s own self hate and self anger.

About two years ago, my friend started to tell me about behaviors which I thought of as odd. She was cutting her skin and on one occasion let someone stab a sharp object through her hand. This troubled me, but it never quite clicked in. Roughly five months later she was over my house for a small get together, swimming in my pool. That is when I saw the “fruits” of her labor.

On her rib area was a tic tac toe looking design carved into her skin and it had scarred. On her hip was carved “UGLY,” which she was far from. I felt like crying. She was a beautiful, intelligent, funny young woman. She was not insane or psychotic, she was not a problem child. She was one of my best friends, standing before me with cuts that would one day heal, but with mental wounds that would not. She would have to live with her scar for awhile, which of course never gives a person rest and would bring up the emotions that brought her to commit the act in the first place.

Self mutilation is something that should be taken very seriously. It is a serious problem and should not be looked at in any other way. People have to get rid of any stigma’s they have about it and open up their minds to what this disorder actually is.

To those of you who commit these acts, you must know that there are places to turn to for help. Don’t just hide it away because you do not want to be looked down upon, seek help. For help on campus you can go to the counseling center on the second floor of the breezeway in the student services (down the hall from financial aid).

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