Opinion | Sexuality

The Gospel of Grace for Women Who Self-Injure

How the church can respond as cutting and other forms of self-harm are increasingly glamorized online.

Self-harm—clinically defined as the deliberate destruction of one's body tissue without suicidal intent, such as cutting, burning, and hair-pulling—is not new. What is new is the proliferation of images and messages through social media that may trigger these behaviors among those vulnerable to them. This is the finding of research published this month in Pediatrics journal.

The study examined one hundred YouTube videos focused on self-injury. Researchers analyzed the most-viewed videos appearing under the search words "self-injury" and "self-harm," and found that the top 100 videos were viewed over 2 million times and marked as "favorites" over 12,000 times. While some videos require viewers to verify they are at least 18 (a simple process requiring no proof of age), most of the videos were viewable to all. The researchers conclude that the videos "express a hopeless or melancholic message" and "may foster normalization of non-suicidal self-injury and may reinforce the behavior ...

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