This post is both a personal story and a personal mission statement-which in all honesty should neither come as a shock or as a surprise.
When I was younger, and by younger I mean in high school, I reached a point so low in my life that for many, the thought occurred that I might not ever come up again. I have made my peace with that time in my life, choosing to try to live in a way that prevents a recurrence, or at the very least, provides a safety net for any time I may “go dark”.
I remember being in weight training class and wearing a hoodie. It was warm in the weight room, and without thinking I pulled up my sleeves. What ensued next is something I won’t forget. There were only four girls in that class, and being one of them I squeezed my way in to the group. There was one person I knew, one person who was very strong and one who, much like me wore black every day, converse and was what the world would consider emo. The girl I knew looked at me strangely then looked away. The girl who looked like me gave me a sad smile and motioned for me to pull my sleeves back down. The strong girl shouted at the top of her lungs (or it seemed like it anyway) WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! She at least waited until we were back in the changing room before she interrogated me further.
I hurriedly tugged my sleeves down, before anyone else saw what they saw. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, a few weeks later I was turned into the office for the same issue, and that path has since led me here.
I think there’s a common misconception that the group of people a decade ago who listened to My Chemical Romance, Pierce the Veil, Black Veil Brides, Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco and others, those who wore black with multiple studded belts, those who did their eye makeup dark and heavy, those who were pale-almost like goth pale but with occasional neon colors, those who did wild things with their hair faded into the abyss after they reached their twenties.
I think that what people see now are the remains of those people, the “emo kids” who have tattoos, stretched lobes, band shirts or who listen to the same music and remain at the edges of society as a forgotten trend, being assimilated into current culture. There was the “scene” trend which followed after “emo”. There was the grunge-resurgence which is making it’s way now. And yet, there’s a very large issue with this way of thinking.
It’s a pretty accepted belief that some of the trends, some of the behaviors that belonged pretty stereotypically to the “emo” culture have died out with their fashion. By died out I also pretty synonymously mean “grew out of”, as most people think that the things you experience as a teenager and early adult really just don’t stick with you. Like drawing those little S things on your school books or listening to music REALLY loud. But there are plenty of things that stay with you, or could stay with you from your younger years. And I’m going to call on one behavior in particular.
A 2008 (nearly a decade ago, when emo culture was still very prominent) publication by the US National Library of Medicine reported the following nonsuicidal self injury (NSSI) statistics: 2008 Website
- 1/3 to 1/2 of US adolescents have engaged in some type of self injury.
- Cutting and burning are the most common types of non-suicidal self-injury.
- 70% of teens engaging in self-injury behavior have made at least one suicide attempt.
- 55% had made multiple suicide attempts.
And here are the statistics from this year: 2016 Website
- 3%-38% of US adolescents have engaged in some type of self-injury
- 13%-24% of US high school students have engaged in some type of self-injury
- Self-injury may occur as young as 7 years of age, but typical age of onset is 12-15 years.
- Self injury at the college level is reported to be between 30%-40%
You see, the thing that no one talks about is the fact that the people who belonged to the
“emo” culture (and everyone of that same age) grew into the adults who are in college today. And no one says anything about the fact that instead of a generational age limit on self-injury, there is one decade or so of individuals who are still being viciously beset by self-harm.
–If I could express how much I miss being that weight, with that hair and that impeccable ability to look pissed, I think this picture does it best. This is one of my favorite photos. Period.–
Anyway, what is my point of posting a pre-instagram photo with a blue filter? You see, I once belonged to the group of people who identified (or were identified by others) as emo. And I loved it. It was the only time I ever felt comfortable as a person.
I remember coming across an article somewhere about the realities of self harm in younger adults and thinking:
Wow, no one really talks about this.
And I thought about all the things people really never talk about and knew I couldn’t stay silent. It’s a concern that shouldn’t be brushed off as a phase that people just get over. It’s a real danger and more people should talk about it.