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Some teens cyberbullying themselves to do self harm

Posted at 7:17 AM, Dec 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-06 07:32:32-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Cyberbullying has been around since the internet was invented, but some teens are targeting themselves with cruel messages.

Using websites like Tumblr or Ask.fm, teens can post anonymous, mean messages about themselves, called "digital self-harm."

A new study by the Cyberbullying Research Center revealed that 6 percent of kids aged 12-17 have bullied themselves digitally.

Digital self-harm first came into the limelight in 2013 when it was discovered that a 14-year-old from England sent hurtful messages to herself on social media before her suicide.

"You have depression, mental illness, you have bullying," said Kimberly Ewing, the program manager of Indiana Youth Group. "So there's a variety of things that will cause a person to do self harm. It's very real."

MORE | Learn more about digital self-harm

Doctors at Riley Children's Health say rather than physically harming themselves, teens are just using a different platform.

"It's not for the individual so much to bring attention to themselves but more as their own way of expressing their disgust and their displeasure with their own bodies and minds," said Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber.

They say it's important to recognize the warning signs and take action before things escalate.

"If they seem down, if you seem depressed, if they are not talking, if you're not engaging, if you're not participating in family functions, if you want to start asking some questions," Rohr-Kirchgraber said. "You want to find out what's happening."

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