Self-mutilation among teenagers has drastically increased in the past year, and is the fastest growing problem among adolescents, according to a Johannesburg psychologist.
Joy Nel told delegates at a national conference on child abuse in Pretoria on Tuesday that 85 percent of her clients mutilated themselves after experiencing trauma, Beeld reported.
Another reason for self-mutilation was adolescents joining so-called "emo-cults", which should be taken seriously by parents, and not simply regarded as more than just a passing phase, she said.
"Adolescents who cut themselves feel numb, so they hurt themselves to feel alive, and countless sex crimes and other forms of abuse go hand-in-hand with these cults," Nel said.
The "emo" group members, who usually complained of having experienced life-long disappointment in other people, cut each other during group sessions, which were frequently photographed.
Most adolescents who self-mutilated resented the term, and get upset when people used it, preferring to call it bleeding, bloodletting or dripping, said Nel.
They also could not understand why their parents made a fuss about it, because, they were "hurting only themselves, and not other people," she said.