Mental health professionals are coming across an increasing number of adolescents with a tendency of self-mutilation to cope with their stress and anxiety. The phenomenon is far more common among girls but now boys are also self-injuring.

According to this phenomenon, which is clinically described as "non- suicidal deliberate self-harm", teenagers injure themselves with sharp tools like knives, blades or even the pointy compass from the geometry box, but not with a view to committing suicide.

A clinical psychologist in Mumbai, Sonali Gupta, said that she observed her young client always clad in long-sleeved shirts despite the heat. After a few sessions, she discovered that the girl was cutting herself on her forearms with sharp objects. On inspecting, the psychologist found that she was harming herself not with a view to kill herself but to deal with her anxiety.

The mental health professionals say that the self-mutilation is a method of coping with contained stress and anxiety. But the problem can lead to suicide in extreme cases, if not addressed on time. "It is not a new phenomenon, but it is now being identified as more young people are reaching out for help," TOI quoted Dr K John Vijay Sagar, professor in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at Nimhans (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences) in Bengaluru.

"We see this self-directed aggression across social strata and one thing is clear: Youngsters these days are under significant stress — academic stress, interpersonal stress with peers or parents, relationship-related stress," he added.

According to the professionals of mental health care, the injuries may look like an attempted suicide but on the contrast, it is a method of coping — although a faulty one — with living. They say that by harming themselves they are able to get distracted from unresolved inner turmoil.