Media advisory: Princeton researcher available to discuss new study on students who hurt themselves through self-injurious behaviors

A ground-breaking new study on self-injurious behavior conducted by Princeton and Cornell University researchers has revealed that cutting, biting and other behaviors are prevalent among college students, particularly those who have been emotionally abused.

The study, which is to be released in the June issue of the journal "Pediatrics," is one of the first and also the largest U.S. study on how common self-injurious behaviors are among college students. Self-injurious behavior (SIB) is defined as inflicting harm to one's body without the obvious intent of committing suicide.

Dr. Daniel Silverman, Princeton's chief medical officer and executive director of University Health Services, was one of three researchers who conducted the survey of 3,069 students that served as the basis for the study. The research was led by Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behavior within the Family Life Development Center (FLDC) at Cornell. The third researcher was John Eckenrode, professor and director of the FLDC at Cornell's College of Human Ecology.

"Our hope is that this study will raise awareness among all members of the higher-education community that self injurious behavior may be a serious problem for certain college students who are experiencing psychological distress," Silverman said. "Perhaps the most important message is that medical and mental health clinicians, faculty, coaches, mentors, administrators, parents and friends should not hesitate to ask students struggling with severe stress whether they are relying upon self injury as a way of trying to reduce tension or to cope with painful feelings. Students often feel relief and more free to talk about their psychological distress when a caring person asks if they are feeling bad enough to hurt themselves.”

To learn more about the findings, view the full news release on Cornell's news site on June 5.

Dr. Daniel Silverman is available for comment at (609) 258-2300. Please contact Nicola Pytell at Cornell at (607) 351-3548 or to receive an embargoed copy of the release or to speak to Whitlock or Eckenrode.