Being a teenager is tough. This is when your child is going through all sorts of changes — physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
If you remember what it was like during your teenage years, you’ll probably be smiling and cringing at the same time.
Trying to juggle between getting good grades, while still looking cool, controlling surging hormones, and finding who you are isn’t an easy feat, and can be downright overwhelming.
Unfortunately this is also when some youths turn to risky behaviour as a way of coping, to express themselves, just to rebel, or in an attempt to fit in.
The Singapore Institute of Mental Health (IMH) reports that some youths in Singapore also engage in various self-harm techniques such as cutting their wrists, carving on their skin with a knife, hitting themselves against a hard surface, overdosing on certain medications, or ingesting harmful substances (like bleach or household detergents).
But theAsianparent recently learned from a social worker who deals with youths that an alarming new self-harm trend has emerged amongst teenagers here in Singapore that parents should be on the look out for.
Youths are scraping the insides of their nostrils as a new form of self-harm
Nasal scraping self harm trend
The new form of self-harm that is slowly picking up amongst youths here is “Nasal Scraping“.
A small piece of paper is rolled up tightly and then inserted into the nostrils to continuously scrape the insides until it feels sore and eventually becomes numb.
The main aim of scraping the nasal passage is that it causes them to end up with a raspy voice — which apparently is deemed as “cool”!
Dr. Reena Gupta, Director of the Division of Voice and Laryngology at Osborne Head & Neck Institute (USA), confirms that excessive nose-picking can lead to a perforated septum which causes the voice to be more nasal, or more hoarse and raspy due to increased nasal secretions that drip onto the vocal cords.
If your child engages in this worrying self-harm trend, it is important that they are made aware of these health complications that could arise:
April D. learned the hard way when her compulsive nose-picking caused a hole in her septum (the thin wall that separates the nostrils) and she had to undergo several surgeries to correct it.
“It was extremely painful and involved lots of constant nose bleeds for four weeks, throwing up from the pain medicine, and sleeping sitting up so I didn’t choke on the blood draining from my nose into my throat”, she says.
April also had a second skin graft taken from her scalp to reconstruct her septum after her nose rejected the cadaver skin the first time round!
Why do some youths engage in self-harm?
More Singapore youths turning to self-harm
The Straits Times (ST) reports that there is a rising trend of self-harm amongst our youths including those below 14.
IMH explains that those who resort to self-harm do so due to a number of reasons such as:
1. For relief from painful emotions or distress
3. To express an emotional conflict or personal turmoil
4. A cry for help
5. To regain a sense of control
6. A form of distraction or escapism from difficult situations or setbacks in life (like parents going through a divorce, the death of a close friend, bad grades in school, sexual abuse)
In the case of Nasal Scraping, one of the reasons for self-harm could also be peer pressure.
Let your child know that she can talk to you about anything and that you are always there for her
Is your child at risk?
If you’re worried that your tween or teenager is at risk of this new self-harm trend, these are the red flags to watch out for:
- Engaging in risky behaviour
- Skipping school
- Talks or makes jokes about self-harm and death
- Sudden drop in grades
- Sleep irregularity
- Increased agitation
- Change in nasal resonance
- Hoarse voice
- Constant throat-clearing
Remind your child that she can talk to you about any problems she might be facing, and build that trust with her to ensure she doesn’t hide anything important from you — especially something as serious as self-harm.
Have you heard about this alarming self-harm trend? What would you do if you found out your child was doing this? Share your thoughts with us below