17 Dec 2010

American Samoa to study self-harm among students

2:34 pm on 17 December 2010

About 2,000 students in American Samoa are about to take part in a study about self-harm.

The University of North Dakota has joined the Department of Education and local community organisations in American Samoa to find out why some teens consider hurting themselves while others don't.

The project, called Fesili Mai or Ask Me, runs until the end of January with 2,000 randomly selected high school students taking part.

An anthropologist and lead researcher, Dr. Dianna Georgina, says there have been significant changes in American Samoan society that could be influencing this generation of young people in negative ways.

She says the data will be gathered in American Samoa then put together by the University of North Dakota.

"So that we can start looking at how we can better support our young people and their families in developing services that we need for them. So it's just a stepping stone as we move into 2011 and a very exciting one at that."

Dr Georgina says sometimes young people become very upset by everyday problems and lack the emotional support to explore alternatives to self-harm.