Study Finds That Self-Injury Abuse Is Common Among Both Black and White College Students

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics by researchers at Cornell University and Princeton University has found that 17 percent of all undergraduate and graduate students have engaged in self-injurious behavior. Students reported cutting or burning themselves or even breaking their own bones.

Some experts believe that self-injury is used as a way to relieve stress of deep-rooted emotional or psychological problems by transferring the pain to the physical body. The study found that in many cases self-injury was not an attempt to gain sympathy because many of the students who engaged in the activity kept it to themselves.

Of the students who had injured themselves, 75 percent reported doing so on more than one occasion. Repeat self-abusers were more likely to be women, bisexuals or students who were questioning their sexual orientation.

Dr. Janis Whitlock of the Family Life Development Center at Cornell University told JBHE that “self-injury as a predominately white female phenomenon is a common conception that our data did not fully support.” While Asian Americans were less likely than other ethnic groups to engage in self-abuse, Dr. Whitlock told JBHE her data shows that African-American college students were just as likely as whites to engage in this practice.