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A woman shares her story of self-injury

Paja Russell had been injuring herself for more than 20 years before the terrifying prospect of suicide prompted her to finally get the help she needed. The Medford woman, who now writes a blog to help others, shared her story with the Mail Tribune and others Thursday as part of Rogue Community College's "Human Library" project.

Russell was one of eight people who told their life stories to individuals who "checked" them out as if they were a book at the Medford library. Other speakers included a high school dropout who turned his life around and a woman who has run more than 26 marathons.

Katy Wicks, of RCC's diversity programming board, said the idea originated in Copenhagen as a way to reduce violence among youth. The event aims to create a safe space for both the "book" and "reader" to have an honest, open dialogue and learn from each other.

In the Mail Tribune video, Russell says burning and cutting herself was a coping mechanism to deal with the pain of childhood abuse. Therapy helped her realize she needed to address the source of the pain to heal and stop harming herself.

Paja Russell shares her story of self-injury during the 'Human Library' project. Mail Tribune photo still from video