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February 22, 2011

Self Injury Videos on You Tube

A new study in the journal Pediatrics from Montreal and Ontario, Canada assessed the rising phenomena of youtube videos depicting self-injurious non-suicidal behavior such as cutting and burning.  They found that the top 100 videos were viewed over 2 million times.  The tone of these videos was equally “factual” or melancholic.  The authors conclude:

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. Graphic videos showing nonsuicidal self-injury are frequently accessed and received positively by viewers. These videos largely provide nonsuicidal self-injury information and/or express a hopeless or melancholic message. Professionals working with youth and young adults who enact nonsuicidal self-injury need to be aware of the scope and nature of nonsuicidal self-injury on YouTube.

The increasing prevalence of these oftentimes graphic videos will hopefully promote increased awareness and discussion of self-injurious behaviors.  Many of the videos, to their credit, are factual and provide resources for persons who are self-injurious.


Published online February 21, 2011
PEDIATRICS (doi:10.1542/peds.2010-2317)

Stephen P. Lewis, PhDa, Nancy L. Heath, PhDb, Jill M. St Denis, MAa, Rick Noble, BSb
Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada; and
bDepartment of Educational and Counseling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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