Why do people hurt themselves? Bullying and new research on suicide and non-suicidal self-injury

Last month, we attended a presentation by Dr. Matthew K. Nock of Harvard University who is an expert in why people hurt themselves. We’ve been meaning to write about this subject ever since the recent deaths of Corey Haim and Andrew Koenig but what prompts us to cover it now are the emerging details about the final days of Phoebe Prince (picture left) who hanged herself apparently to escape the effects of relentless bullying. The subjects of bullying, suicide and self-injury are large and complicated so we will discuss these topics in a series of articles, beginning today.

First some basic statistics: In the United States, suicide is the 11th most common cause of death in adults but is the 3rd most common cause of death in adolescents. According to the World Health Organization, somewhere in the world, someone commits suicide every 1 minute and 40 seconds and there are 1 million deaths from suicide every year.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.


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