Understanding Cutting and Bullycide

 Psychological research suggests that there is a kind of perfect storm that takes place in this age range that makes suicide the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 10-24 (see Center for Suicide Awareness).
To begin with, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and depression regularly emerge during adolescence (Giedd, Keshavan, & Paus, 2008). It is at this vulnerable time that bullying tends to peak, with rates of school bullying (thankfully) falling across the high school years, and rates of cyber-bullying never changing (Eisenberg & Aalsma, 2005; and Schneider, O’Donnell, Stueve, Coulter, 2012). This is the perfect storm our youth face:
It is when they are the most vulnerable for depression/anxiety/eating disorders that they are the most likely to be the victim of bullying.
There is a third layer to this perfect storm: Disorders like depression and anorexia are associated with what are referred to as ego-syntonic symptoms. Ego-syntonic symptoms (like someone with depression cutting their body or a person with anorexia engaging in self-starvation) are particularly difficult to treat because the individual sees their behavior as consistent with and helping them achieve a particular goal (ego-dystonic symptoms, in contrast, would be those of PTSD). This can be understood intuitively with anorexia, as the act of self-starvation results in a salient, explicit outcome of weight loss, which the anorexic individual desires (despite anorexia having the highest mortality rate among psychiatric disorders). It is less intuitive to see how cutting is ego-syntonic, but this can be understood by marrying two seemingly unrelated lines of research: the physical-emotional pain overlap and pain offset relief. To continue reading, click here.