Our response to self-injury on MTV’s Real World Cancun.

By Kaitlyn PartinJuly 23, 2009

This is a response to the most recent episode of MTV’s Real World Cancun.

We were made aware of this particular episode through an email received earlier today. Members of our team watched last night’s Real World Cancun episode, in which Ayiiia self-injures after a season of arguments and a difficult living situation with her roommates. Since watching, we’ve read over the messages coming from MTV viewers, e-mails, and Twitter.

It’s easy to watch a show and feel like you know a person, feel like your opinion about what’s going on in their world is easily solvable and can be fixed by simply “cheering up.” After I watched the episode online, I viewed a couple of the responses by other members of the show, and it was so clear to me that hurtful responses towards people struggling with self-injury are not ok, but sometimes, they’re the only way we know to respond.

What the MTV producers did really well with this episode was bring to light the way we have a chance to respond during confusing, painful moments in the lives of those we do life with. I think that Chloe, one of our TWLOHA team members, said it best when she said that when faced with an issue they don’t understand, like self-injury, people can either antagonize, sympathize or become apathetic. Each of these responses was evidenced in the Real World episode.

We want to say that we see the confusion. We see Ayiiia’s pain, and we see the frustration of her roommates who don’t understand why she chooses to respond by hurting herself. We understand the confusion these issues carry, and we want to say that striving to understand them is important.

If you saw this episode and it was hard to watch, or triggering, we are sorry. If seeing Ayiiia in her place of pain reminded you of a place you’ve come from or a place you’re currently struggling with, we are sorry. However, in the same way it hurts us to see pain broadcasted into homes on TVs and computer screens, it cannot be denied that it forces the world to see the reality of these issues, that they exist, and that they happen. This is the real world we live in.

Ayiiia later confessed in an interview that prior to the Real World she had only shared with two friends about her self-injury. Her vulnerability in sharing herself with every Real World viewer reminds us of the power our stories hold, and the role they play in breaking silence, entering dark places and helping us feel less alone.

We’ve been in touch with some friends over at MTV and we’re working to help in any way that we can. We want to be available in helping people find help and new resources in their moments of pain.


Oh—and on an exciting side note, Jamie just boarded a plane and is currently flying across the United States to California to attend the US Open of Surfing with a few other members of our team. This is a big moment for TWLOHA, and it’s a chance for us to connect in new ways with the surfing community, which many members of our team grew up in.

Leave a Reply

Get Email Updates

Sign up for our newsletter to hear updates from our team and how you can help share the message of hope and help.