"Communities" Of Chokers And Cutters

In the February 2006 issue of Readers' Digest, "Thrills That Kill" describes a growing number of internet sites that encourage kids to take risks like choking themselves to get high or cutting and starving themselves to relieve their emotional pain:
Researchers at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, found that 40 percent of adolescents who had been hospitalized for eating disorders had spent time on pro-(anorexia) websites.

When Caitlin (a fourteen-year old) clicked on cutting websites, she found short bios of famous self-injurers, including Princess Diana and singer Fiona Apple, which, she says, "made it seem cool and okay." She even discovered sites that gave her tips on how to hide her wounds. On one discussion board, a cutter suggested, "Depending on wear [sic] the cuts are ... sweatbands will work very well."

"I was amazed to find so many other people with my same problems," Caitlin says. "I felt so isolated, but online I found solidarity from strangers who I felt some connection to."
The article encourages parents to pay attention:
Excessive exercise regimens and developing rituals around eating are anorexia tip-offs. A rash of cuts on the body are signs of self-injury. Bloodshot eyes, dizziness and red marks on a child's neck are indications of the choking game.
Check out these seven internet resources to help your kids stay away from self-injury. (And if you're a teen who has found this blog by googling something like "cutting," please visit this site.)

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