A study published this week shows 17 percent of respondents at two Ivy League schools have self-injured. And 75 percent of those have done it more than once.
The Early Show national correspondent Tracy Smith met a young woman from Peoria, Ill., who says self-injury can become a dangerous addiction.
Looking at Alicia Moore, 17, it's hard to see the traces of a troubled little girl but they're there. From a young age, Alicia was exceptional — a brilliant student, a talented musician and dancer. But she hated herself for it.
"I'd get made fun of for being smart. Getting A's on tests. Stuff like that," she remembers. "It was devastating. I thought there was something wrong with me. And that it … was always gonna be like that."
Isolated and alone, Alicia found the only way she felt better emotionally was to hurt herself physically. The first time she cut was in fifth grade.
"I ripped the soda can in half and just cut myself right here almost on instinct," Alicia explains. "I just remember kind of looking down and be like, 'I did that.' And I just remembered just having kind of this euphoric, everything's OK."
Alicia started down a dark path, where self-mutilation became her only solace.
She says she was addicted to hurting herself. "It was, I feel, the smallest amount of anything. And it was, 'OK, I can cut myself. And it'll go away,' " Alicia says.
Alicia found plenty of ways to cut herself; some were obvious, like razor blades, safety pins and scissors. Other methods took some creativity, like using broken CDs and even ordinary buttons. All were acts of a desperate and hurting girl.
She even secretly made a video, recoding her despair. "I hate being me, that's the bottom line," she said in the video.
Karen Conterio, co-author of "Bodily Harm," says self-loathing is typical for self-injurers. "Self-injury can be used as a punishment, it's intentional. Self-injury can be used as a way to say 'Look at how much I hate myself,' " she explains.
Alicia says she wasn't trying to kill herself. "I didn't cut myself to try to kill myself. I cut myself to release all of this emotional pain that I felt like I couldn't handle anymore," she says.