Nonsuicidal Self-Injury Videos Accessible on YouTube

YouTube footage of nonsuicidal self-injury is novel way to reach youth with these tendencies

MONDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) videos on YouTube are accessible to the general public and are positively rated and frequently viewed, according to a study published online Feb. 21 in Pediatrics.

Stephen P. Lewis, Ph.D., from the University of Guelph in Canada, and colleagues investigated the scope and accessibility of NSSI videos available online. They used YouTube search tools to identify the 50 most-viewed videos with a live individual, and 50 most-viewed noncharacter videos.

The investigators found that, of the top 100 videos viewed over two million times, 80 percent were accessible to the general public. The videos were rated positively and selected as favorites by the viewers over 12,000 times. In 53 percent of the videos, the tone was factual or instructive, and in 51 percent melancholic. Self-injury imagery of an explicit nature was seen in 90 percent of noncharacter NSSI videos and in 28 percent of NSSI in-action character videos. Cutting was the most common method of self-injury in both the groups. There was no warning about the content in 58 percent of the videos.

"Awareness about NSSI videos on YouTube is warranted, and health professionals working with youth who self-injure may need to inquire about a young person's Internet use in their clinical practice," the authors write. "Although the content of NSSI videos on YouTube may be problematic because of its graphic nature and mixed messages, the Internet in general, and YouTube in particular, offer novel ways to reach a greater number of youth who may otherwise not openly discuss their NSSI with others."

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