Cutting is a form of self-harm that can become a habit. With the right support, many people who cut learn how to stop. Self-harm, including cutting, is not uncommon.
Self-harm can be a way of dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. Afterwards, you probably feel better—at least for a little while. But then the painful feelings return, and you feel the urge to hurt yourself again.
For most, cutting is an attempt to interrupt strong emotions and pressures that seem impossible to tolerate. It can be related to broader emotional issues that need attention. It can be hard to talk about such a painful topic.
Order printed copies of this publication. This booklet aims to help you understand more about self-harm and what to do if you are worried about yourself or someone else. It explains what self-harm is, what to do if you or someone you know is self-harming, and how to get help.
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Self-Harm is an increasingly pervasive symptom of emotional distress among adolescent girls. Because it involves physical damage to the sufferer, cutting understandably evokes distress and fear in others. Viewed on a continuum, self-harming behavior can easily—though not always accurately—be interpreted as a precursor to suicidal behavior.
Self-harm can be a way for a person to feel something when experiencing numbness or to distract themselves from depression or anxiety. Some people cut to create a wound that can symbolize their emotional pain, while others use cutting as a way to avoid telling loved ones about their feelings. There can be a link between self-harm and childhood trauma like physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.
Emma's mom first noticed the cuts when Emma was doing the dishes one night. Emma told her mom that their cat had scratched her. Her mom seemed surprised that the cat had been so rough, but she didn't think much more about it.
Many people have a hard time talking about self- injury because it seems unnatural to them. It is important to understand what motivates teens to harm themselves because not all people do it for the same reason. The best way to help someone to stop self- injuring is to help him or her address the underlying issues.
Many adults think teens self-injure to get attention, but this isn't true. If your teen is cutting, they are crying out for help for a much deeper issue. It's important that you are able to spot the warning signs so you can help. Start by looking for red flags and having an honest and compassionate conversation with your child.