Self-Injury & Cutting: It’s Time to Get Help

self injury and cutting, sad high school student sitting in hallway, sad teenager

Cutting, also known as self-Injury or self-mutilation have quickly become an unfortunate, dangerous trend among young people in America. In fact, a 2012 study found that 8 percent of children and teens who participated in the study self-injured. With celebrities and social media influencers talking about it (and sometimes even glorifying it), cutting has grown since it was first studied in the 1990’s. It is important to seek help if you think your child may have started cutting.

Understanding the Cause

Though reasons are different for every individual, the vast majority of kids and teens who self-injure are not doing it for attention–in fact, they use it as a coping mechanism to control emotions and struggle to hide it. In an effort to try to suppress a negative emotion, they use cutting to experience a brief rush or high. Sometimes, if they describe a feeling of constant “numbness”, cutting enables them to have any sort of sensation. Cutting often arises after a painful or traumatic experience you may not even be aware of.

How to Approach

If you discover your child is cutting, or you even suspect it, you must address them directly. React in a calm manner, and do not immediately respond in an aggressive or accusatory way. Try stating what you’ve noticed recently and make sure to communicate your concern. Focus on the fact that you care deeply about them, and share those feelings so that the discussion goes two-ways. Ensure they are not in trouble, you are not angry with them, and that you want to help them get better.

Seeking Help Together

Since cutting is a coping mechanism, it is important your child starts talking with a therapist they can trust. A mental health professional can help them uncover other ways to work through emotions, find other means of gaining control over their lives, or accepting that they cannot be perfect 100% of the time. Therapy can also uncover other conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder or compulsive behavior that is treatable through other ways. Though your child may want privacy as they work through their issues, remain open to discussion if your child decides to let you in. Be patient and supportive during this time–recovery is attainable.