As a mental-health advocate working in dance, I have the honor of speaking with teachers all over the world. Recently, I have been receiving more frequent inquiries on noticing self-harm in dancers.
"Self-harm" refers to anytime someone hurts themselves on purpose, and it can include cutting, punching, bruising, pulling hair, burning or even breaking bones. According to the National Center for Health Research, self-harm is increasing among teenage girls. The Center cites a 2018 study that found that 18 percent of teens had purposely injured themselves over the past year.
The increase in incidents of self-harm that dance teachers have expressed to me makes sense given these statistics. And anecdotally, dancers may be even more likely to engage in self-harming behavior because of the rigor of training and the prevalence of perfectionism and low self-esteem among dancers.