Prepare for the Overlords!

Facebook Badge

Monday, October 03, 2005 :: Home of the Sunday Times :: South Africa's best selling newspaper ::: "PSYCHOLOGISTS and psychiatrists in South Africa have reported an alarming increase in the number of cases of teenagers mutilating themselves.
A counsellor for the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, Janine Shamos, said child abuse and neglect in situations where Aids decimates families, anxiety about exams and jobs, and peer pressure are among the triggers that provoke teenagers to try to escape their emotional pain by drawing blood.
Self-cutting is also a warning sign of underlying illnesses, such as personality and mood disorders and depression, said University of Cape Town psychologist Dr Helgo Schomer.
While stress fuels self-cutting and suicide � the fastest growing cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds in South Africa � self-mutilation is distinct from suicide.
Wits University psychologist Vanessa Hemp explained the motivation behind self-cutting as an attempt to feel better � not to end everything.
Hemp said increasing numbers of children with self-mutilation problems, were coming to the Tara/Alexandra Outpatient�s Clinic in Johannesburg, where she is based. �We see more and more girls and boys doing self-mutilation. This is generally about an inability to deal with difficult feelings ... Cutting is a form of release and control,� she said.
Although there are no figures to indicate how widespread such
self-harming behaviour is in South Africa, international studies indicate that about 18 out of 1000 people aged 15 to 35 harm themselves, and roughly half of all teenagers who are admitted for psychiatric treatment have injured themselves.
Shamos said: �When the emotional pain becomes immense, it is easier to deal with the physical pain. The cutting almost has a calming effect and can be addicti"

Kathy”, an advertising agency employer in Johannesburg who has been cutting herself for 12 years, confirmed this.

“The first time was when I was 13. I had had a fight and wanted to cry but I didn’t want to be weak. I went to the garage, saw a blade, and cut myself. Seeing blood gave me such relief.”

Kathy, whose father is an alcoholic, said: “I usually carry around a razor blade. When it is tucked away in my bag, I feel safe.”

Now in intensive therapy and on anti-depressant treatment, Kathy has stopped cutting for the past three months. She has been treated for depression, anxiety and, in the past, eating disorders.

Psychiatrist Dr Rykie Liebenberg said that those practising self-cutting try to cover it up.

“Self-cutting is very much hidden. There is a lot of stigma around it, as society can’t deal with it,” said Liebenberg.

Makhado student “Iris”, 16, agreed with this, saying that she had lied about her scars — even to a close friend. “I’m a Tsonga person and I’m too scared to speak up,” said Iris, who slices her hands with a razor blade about three times a week.

“I just feel so angry sometimes and want to hurt somebody else. Instead I hurt myself.

“Sometimes little things set me off, especially now with the stress of exams coming,” she said.

Iris confided in a social worker from her church but would not trust teachers with her secret.

Shamos said that adults should watch out when teenagers:

•Isolate themselves;

•Neglect personal hygiene;

•Start performing badly at school; and

•Wear long clothing in warm weather.

Some Johannesburg schools are aware of the problem, and have approached the South African Depression and Anxiety Disorders Support Group.

With the group’s assistance, Kathy started a support initiative for self-cutters in Johannesburg about a year ago.

The danger of self-cutting is that it distances people from their painful feelings and, in the long-term, makes it even harder to deal with them.

•The South African Depression and Anxiety Disorders Support Group can be contacted on (011) 783-474 or (011) 884-1797.

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
eureka, California, United States
As Popeye once said,"I ams what I am." But then again maybe I'm not