Research Scientist Gives Presentation on Self-Injury - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Research Scientist Gives Presentation on Self-Injury

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A research scientist from Cornell University led a seminar in Charlottesville Monday on self-injury behaviors like cutting or burning.

More than 200 people who work with young people in the community came to learn more about the difficult topic. Dr. Janis Whitlock, who gave the presentation, says it's a scary experience to see someone intentionally hurting themselves because it looks like a suicidal gesture. But understanding the problem is the first step to intervention and treatment.

Safe Schools/Healthy Students hosted the presentation, called "Moving from Hurt to Healing: Understanding Self-Injury" at the Albemarle County Office Building Monday morning.

Whitlock says 15 to 20 percent of young people have purposely hurt themselves at one point in their lives. Self-injury is best understood as a coping mechanism for emotion.

“The reason it works is because it engages for a lot of people the endogenous opioid system, and it helps them go from a state of very high agitation or emotional dissociation into a state of calm really quickly,” Whitlock said.

Organizers also set up a live stream of the presentation through the Albemarle school system’s department of research and technology. They were able to virtually interact with participants through features like poll questions.

Whitlock will also sit down for a conversation with parents and caregivers on this subject Monday at 6:00 p.m. at the county office building.

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