Cutting has been around a long time and it seems to be a topic no one talks about, but everyone knows exists. I get about 5 to 10 emails per week specifically about self-mutilation. Cutting, bruising, puncturing or pulling out hair or eyelashes—these are all forms of self-mutilation.
If you have thought about cutting or are worried about someone in your life who might be, here are a few ideas to think about. After speaking with a couple of therapists, former cutters and teen interns, here are a list of topics I wanted to mention.
What to Know About Teens and Cutting or Self-Mutilation
1) The Pain Brings Relief
There are many reasons that people self-mutilate, one is that cutters and self-mutilators often express the feeling of relief once they hurt themselves and they feel pain. They have so much emotional pain that somehow the physical pain feels good, like a pressure gauge opening or numbing cream to the internal pain.
2) Someone Might See
Another reason that therapists point to for self mutilation is a cry for attention. Some cutters put their marks or scars in a location on their body that might be seen by someone, and this is their way of asking for help with their internal crisis.
3) Cry for Attention
There is a cry for help and a cry for attention. One of the many issues that teens brought up while talking about this issue is that they feel friends of girls surface cut themselves “just to get attention” and it is not really dangerous. This may or may not be true but I think it is ESSENTIAL to point out, whether or not they are doing it as a cry for help or for attention something is wrong. If they need attention that badly then they do need help whether the cutting brings physical relief or not.
4) Not always a suicide attempt, but accidents happen
Many teens report knowing many friends who cut themselves occasionally, but do not seem to worried about it because ‘they are not doing it seriously.’ I think that self-mutilation is a serious issue and mistakes, cuts to deep, infection and not to mention the psychological damage it can do means it is serious.
Often times, therapists point out that cutting can be used as a way to express emotions and keep control over what they feel like are uncontrollable emotions or life surroundings.
Most importantly, everyone should take cutting seriously and confront the issue directly. It should be brought to a school counselor, therapist or parent as soon as possible.