Staff Therapist Carol Blum Reflects on Why Self-Harm in Teen Girls is on the Rise

November 27, 2017

A new study indicates that cases of self-harm and suicide attempts are on the rise among young girls in the US. The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Hadas Kusnitz of KYW radio reached out to CFR therapist Carol Blum to find out what is causing this alarming trend.

“The study says that there’s a rise in self-harm and suicide attempts among girls in the United States. I think that is because families are more isolated than they have ever been,” Ms. Blum commented.

Blum  says as face-to-face interactions decrease, anxiety and depression increases.

The study looked at 15 years of emergency room records. The researchers analyzed 2001-2015 data on nonfatal self-inflicted injuries treated in emergency rooms among girls ages 10 to 24. Rates for boys did not change during these years.

The sharpest increase occurred among girls aged 10 to 14, nearly tripling from 2009 to 2015, from about 110 visits per 100,000 to almost 318 per 100,000. Older teen girls had the highest rates — 633 visits per 100,000 in 2015, but the increase after 2008 was less steep.

“What happens is that people are spending so much time on social media and they’re comparing themselves to others,” she said. “And they’re struggling to let go of feelings, and they’re using self-harm as a way of numbing feelings instead of letting them go.”

Blum says family dinners go a long way — but you have to unplug and you have to ask each other how you’re doing.

“People are alone more and more,” she said, “and they’re not feeling grateful.”

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Learn more about Staff Therapist Carol Blum.