A disturbing trend on YouTube: Thousands of videos showing—and, in many cases, glamorizing—cutting and other self-injury methods. The videos get millions of hits, and a recent study warns that they could act as a how-to guide for viewers who are looking to harm themselves. The graphic videos often feature live enactments of people using razors or other sharp objects on their arms and legs, and some include haunting music that could attract even more vulnerable viewers to the practice.
A co-author of the study says he found more than 5,000 self-injury videos on YouTube, though the study focused on just 100, which had been viewed more than 2 million times. The authors believe YouTube should offer helpful resources or links when users search for “self-injury,” the AP reports. A rep for the site says the company is looking into that possibility, but for now, its normal policies against graphic content apply to these videos, which have been removed in the past when flagged. One psychologist says self-injury videos may trigger self-harm, but can also open the topic up “for social discussion … in a way that was not possible when it was secret.”