Cornell offers integrated support for students who self-injure

The practice of self-injury by students is a growing concern at colleges and universities across the nation. Equally so at Cornell, where medical and counseling staffs at Gannett Health Services work collaboratively to identify and assist individuals who engage in self-injurious behavior (SIB).

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) regularly and systematically assesses for self-injury and the risk of suicide with all clients, says Greg Eells, director of CAPS. The focus of clinical treatment for SIB -- conducted by licensed psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers with extensive training and experience with this issue -- is on both SIB and the underlying psychological pain it reflects.

Help is needed, Eells stresses, from faculty, staff, parents and peers in recognizing and referring to Gannett students exhibiting SIB or other signs of emotional pain.

"A person engaging in self-injury will most likely try to keep it a secret. Scars from injuries may be concealed by clothing; self-injurers may wear long sleeves or high-neck shirts to hide scars, cuts or bruises," Eells says. "Excuses such as 'a cat scratched me' may be offered by way of explanation if injuries are detected."

Any member of the Cornell campus community who is concerned about a student should call CAPS for consultation. Summer hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at (607) 255-5208. Phone consultations are available at all other times at (607) 255-5155.

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Nicola Pytell