Study: African-American Boys Placed At Higher Risk For Self-Harm

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black men and suicide A recent study conducted by a University of Mississippi psychologist has unveiled data that suggests adolescents, especially African-American boys, are at a higher risk for self-harm.

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Dr. Kim Gratz collected data from six middle and high schools in Mississippi. Because of the size of the schools, the sampling has yielded considerably significant findings.

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“Based on what people once thought about this, we might have thought that white youth, and in particular white girls, would be more likely to engage in this behavior. We never would have expected that African American boys were at such high risk,” shared Dr. Gratz with Jackson-based NBC affiliate WLBT. Self-harm methods, such as biting, cutting and skin burning were reported in earlier studies to be practiced among White female teenagers. The new findings place Black male teenagers in the middle of the self-harm debate.

“They reported higher rates of most of the self-harm behaviors than the other groups of students. They had higher rates of severe scratching, self-biting, and punching. But they also did in fact have the highest rates of cutting along with White girls. They had higher rates of most of the behaviors,” said Dr. Gratz in addition to earlier comments.

Dr. Gratz also revealed that 39 percent of teens who engage in self-harm practices do not tell anyone because they are fearful of disclosing their issues.

“Self-harm generally starts in early adolescence and we don’t think that’s a coincidence. It’s dealing with a time when emotions are getting more intense and life is getting more stressful,” concluded Dr. Gatz.

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