One in 12 teenagers cut, burn, or otherwise harm themselves, and 10 percent of them continue to do so into adulthood, say researchers.
Self-harming activities can lead in some cases to suicide, and self-harm is especially common among girls and young women between 15 and 24. The behavior may be on the rise for this age group, experts say.
Young people often grapple with emotional control in their teens, and "Self-harming represents a way of dealing with those emotions," said George Patton, who led the study at the Center for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
Researchers followed 1,800 young people ages 15 to 29, in Victoria, Australia, between 1992 and 2008. About 8 percent of them reported engaging in self-harm. Girls had a 60 percent greater risk of self-harm than boys. But, by age 29, less than 1 percent of study participants said they were still self-harming.
Almost a million people die from suicide each year, according to the World Health Organization. Suicide rates have risen by 60 percent worldwide in the last 45 years.