Megan Lynch @MLynchOnAir

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) –  Cutting.  Burning.  Pulling hair.

One agency in St. Louis is finding there’s greater need for programs for teenagers who self-harm.

Jason Myers, Director of Residential Treatment Services at Great Circle, says self-injury is not necessarily a prelude to suicide. “Self-injury is really a way for kids to cope.  We’ve found that self-injury in many cases is actually keeping a kid alive.”

Myers says adolescents use things like cutting and burning to cope with emotional pain, anger and frustration — many saying it gives them a release.  He says it can go unnoticed for a while, “it is a very covert way that kids will cope.  It is something they can hide easily and something that a lot of teachers and professionals will miss.”

But Myers says it doesn’t always stay private.  “We’ve seen a lot of kids who will be in relationships either with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or in their friend circles, and they will self-injure together.”  He says they see more girls than boys – the average age is 13.

Great Circle offers a 30-day intensive residential program.  At the start of the year the agency will expand services into the community with after school programs and counseling.

Copyright KMOX Radio


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