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Research - Genetic research - self-mutilation gene

NZ researchers identify self-mutilation gene

www.chinaview.cn 2004-05-23 12:30:47

WELLINGTON, May 23 (Xinhuanet) -- New Zealand researchers have identified a gene markedly increasing a teenager's risk of self-mutilation.
According to a study by the Christchurch School of Medicine, carried by Sunday Star-Times Sunday, the researchers have discovered those who have the gene are four times more likely to mutilate or cut themselves than those who do not have it.
Researcher professor Peter Joyce was quoted as saying that the gene appeared to intensify the "numb" state that self-mutilators try to escape from by inflicting pain and cutting themselves.
About 40 percent of the population has the gene, which researchers have now identified as one of three main predictors ofself-mutilation, along with borderline personality disorder and a history of childhood sexual abuse.
Joyce said the study, yet to be published, found that of the young people who did not carry the gene and who had not been sexually abused, only 5 percent self-mutilated.
By comparison, those who had the gene and had not been abused, or who had been abused and did not have the gene, had a 50 percentchance of self-mutilating.
An earlier Christchurch School of Medicine study into depression revealed more young people had cut themselves than had attempted suicide.
Jocye estimated about 5 percent of all New Zealanders self-mutilate at some time, usually in their teens.
The newspaper reported that in New Zealand, actual figures are difficult to find as self-mutilation is not well studied and is commonly confused with suicide attempts, but experts warn the number of teenagers cutting themselves is on the rise.
Auckland District Health Board clinical leader of mental healthNick Argyle said the prevalence of cutting had gone up and was nowone of the most common presentations at the Kari Center, the board' s community mental health service for children and adolescents.
"Young women cutting themselves is quite common," he said.
Joyce said more acceptable forms of self-mutilation, such as body piercing, might hide the extent of the problem. Patients sometimes resorted to body piercing or tattooing, rather than cutting themselves, when they needed pain to break their intenselynumb state, he said

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