I remember watching The Virgin Suicides around the age of 14.
It was dreamy and silken, powder-puff pink, a glorification of 1970’s suburban America that – in 2000’s suburban Australia – seemed impossibly romantic. Beautiful feminine disasters, fighting familiar teenage battles: school, parents, rules. Boys.
But there was a sharpness to the movie, wasn’t there? The violent, suicidal deaths of Cecilia…then Lux, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese. Slit wrists and jumping off roofs, drug overdoses, and gassing themselves in the car.
It was dark and serious, but in my naive and hormonal teenage mind, seemed fairly reasonable. I was a moody teen, sure – but I was also a teen primed to understand that self-harm was simply a part of the fabric of life, love, and growing up.
Thankfully, I made it through unscathed.
The hormones petered out, school finished, and I sailed out of suburbia into the big, wide, happy world. I made it, without ever falling to the depths of suicidal melancholia of those beautiful Coppola girls.
But according to a two-page investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald today, I am in the minority.
One quarter of Australian women aged between 20 – 24 have self harmed in their lifetime.
This is a staggering statistic. Look around your workplace, or your gym, or the supermarket. One in four of the young women you see have felt such desperate despair that they have self-harmed. These are your best friends, sisters, daughters, grand-daughters – and you probably have no idea.
Reading the above statistic on self harm, I’m sad to report that I wasn’t that shocked.