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Published December 14, 2011, 07:08 PM

Prairie St. Johns raising awareness of youth self-injury

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Prairie St. John's is raising awareness about a disturbing trend among young people. It's called non-suicidal self-injury or NSSI and it's a growing problem across the nation and right here in the FM area.

Prairie St. John's is raising awareness about a disturbing trend among young people. It's called non-suicidal self-injury or NSSI and it's a growing problem across the nation and right here in the FM area.

NSSI can affect all people regardless of social or economic background. A recent study showed that 17% percent of 3,000 Ivy League students have self-injured themselves. Dr. Barent Walsh shared this finding with area health care providers, school personnel and other professionals during today's Prairie St. John's workshop.

Dr. Barent Walsh – Mental Health Expert: "Well I hope to educate people about how self-injury is different from suicide, teach them ways to carefully access self-injury and then teach them treatment techniques so they can manage and reduce self-injury in youth."

Different community studies have shown that up to 25% of youth reported self-injuring themselves at least once. Dr. Walsh says males tend to be more aggressive, punching walls or hitting themselves, while females are more likely to cut.

Dr. Barnet Walsh: “Adolescents are prone to trying and experimenting with outrageous things and it does for some people work. It does reduce their anxiety, anger, shame, rage and depression."

Dr. Walsh says schools should try to prevent NSSI cases by teaching students how to control their emotions. He says stress reduction exercises like breathing and visualization techniques and journalizing are pro-active ways to combat this problem.

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