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Self-Cutting Linked to Risky Teen Sex

Study Shows Risky Sexual Behavior Reported More Often Among Frequent Self-Cutters

Self-Cutting and Emotional Distress

Psychologist Lori G. Plante, PhD, tells WebMD that it is not a big surprise that habitual cutters are also at high risk for other risk-taking behaviors.

An assistant clinical professor at Stanford Medical School, Plante is also author of the 2007 book, Bleeding to Ease the Pain: Cutting, Self-Injury, and the Adolescent Search for Self.

"Habitual cutting is a way of managing intense emotional distress," she says. "It makes sense that the level of impulsivity and risk taking would also be higher in these teens."

The finding that many teens try cutting only a few times and abandon the practice also comes as no surprise to Plante.

"I have seen many, many kids who are brought to see me because of cutting who never cut again," she says. "There is some level of social contagion in this, with kids trying it because their friends are."

But even if one- or two-time cutters are at lower risk for other risky behaviors, as Brown's study suggests, cutting should never be ignored, she says.

"If an adolescent cuts once it doesn't necessarily mean cutting is going to become an intractable problem, but it is still a warning sign that they are overwhelmed in some way," she says. "They need to be assessed by a professional."


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