February 22, 2011
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.