Taken From: Here
What Is Cutting?
Injuring yourself on purpose by making scratches or cuts on your body with a sharp object
— enough to break the skin and make it bleed — is called cutting.
Cutting is a type of self-injury, or SI. Most people who cut are girls, but guys
People who cut usually start cutting in their young teens. Some continue to cut into
People may cut themselves on their wrists, arms, legs, or bellies.
Some people self-injure by burning their skin with the end of a cigarette or lighted
When cuts or burns heal, they often leave scars or marks.
People who injure themselves usually hide the cuts
and marks and sometimes no one else knows.
Why Do People Cut Themselves?
It can be hard to understand why people cut themselves on purpose. Cutting is a way some
people try to cope with the pain of strong emotions, intense pressure, or upsetting
relationship problems. They may be dealing with feelings that seem too difficult to bear,
or bad situations they think can't change.
Some people cut because they feel desperate for relief from bad feelings. People who cut
may not know better ways to get relief from emotional pain or pressure. Some people cut to
express strong feelings of rage, sorrow, rejection, desperation, longing, or emptiness.
There are other ways to cope with difficulties, even big problems and terrible emotional
pain. The help of a mental health professional might be needed for major life troubles or
overwhelming emotions. For other tough situations or strong emotions, it can help put
things in perspective to talk problems over with parents, other adults, or friends.
Getting plenty of exercise can also help put problems in perspective and help balance
But people who cut may not have developed ways to cope. Or their coping skills may be
overpowered by emotions that are too intense. When emotions don't get expressed in a
healthy way, tension can build up — sometimes to a point where it seems almost
unbearable. Cutting may be an attempt to relieve that extreme tension. For some, it seems
like a way of feeling in control.
The urge to cut might be triggered by strong feelings the person can't express — such as
anger, hurt, shame, frustration, or alienation. People who cut sometimes say they feel
they don't fit in or that no one understands them. A person might cut because of losing
someone close or to escape a sense of emptiness. Cutting might seem like the only way to
find relief or express personal pain over relationships or rejection.
People who cut or self-injure sometimes have other mental health problems that contribute
to their emotional tension. Cutting is sometimes (but not always) associated with
depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive thinking, or compulsive
behaviors. It can also be a sign of mental health problems that cause people to have
trouble controlling their impulses or to take unnecessary risks. Some people who cut
themselves have problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
Some people who cut have had a traumatic experience, such as living through abuse,
violence, or a disaster. Self-injury may feel like a way of "waking up" from a sense of
numbness after a traumatic experience. Or it may be a way of reinflicting the pain they
went through, expressing anger over it, or trying to get control of it.
What Can Happen to People Who Cut?
Although cutting may provide some temporary relief from a terrible feeling, even people
who cut agree that it isn't a good way to get that relief. For one thing, the relief
doesn't last. The troubles that triggered the cutting remain — they're just masked
People don't usually intend to hurt themselves permanently when they cut. And they don't
usually mean to keep cutting once they start. But both can happen. It's possible to
misjudge the depth of a cut, making it so deep that it requires stitches (or, in extreme
cases, hospitalization). Cuts can become infected if a person uses non-sterile or dirty
cutting instruments — razors, scissors, pins, or even the sharp edge of the tab on a can
Most people who cut aren't attempting suicide. Cutting is usually a person's attempt at
feeling better, not ending it all. Although some people who cut do attempt suicide, it's
usually because of the emotional problems and pain that lie behind their desire to
self-harm, not the cutting itself.
Cutting can be habit forming. It can become a compulsive behavior — meaning that the
more a person does it, the more he or she feels the need to do it. The brain starts to
connect the false sense of relief from bad feelings to the act of cutting, and it craves
this relief the next time tension builds. When cutting becomes a compulsive behavior, it
can seem impossible to stop. So cutting can seem almost like an addiction, where the urge
to cut can seem too hard to resist. A behavior that starts as an attempt to feel more in
control can end up controlling you.
How Does Cutting Start?
Cutting often begins on an impulse. It's not something the person thinks about ahead of
You can't force someone who self-injures to stop. It doesn't help to get mad at a friend
reject that person, lecture her, or beg him to stop. Instead, let your friend know that
that he or she deserves to be healthy and happy, and that no one needs to bear their
Pressured to Cut?
Girls and guys who self-injure are often dealing with some heavy troubles.
Many work hard to overcome difficult problems. So they find it hard to believe that some
kids cut just because they think it's a way to seem tough and rebellious.
If you have a friend who suggests you try cutting, say what you think.
Why get pulled into something you know isn't good for you?
There are plenty of other ways to express who you are.
There are better ways to deal with troubles than cutting — healthier, long-lasting ways
that don't leave a person with emotional and physical scars. The first step is to get help
with the troubles that led to the cutting in the first place. Here are some ideas for
1. Tell someone. People who have stopped cutting often say the first step is the hardest
— admitting to or talking about cutting. But they also say that after they open up about
it, they often feel a great sense of relief. Choose someone you trust to talk to at first
(a parent, school counselor, teacher, coach, doctor, or nurse). If it's too difficult to
bring up the topic in person, write a note.
2. Identify the trouble that's triggering the cutting. Cutting is a way of reacting to
emotional tension or pain. Try to figure out what feelings or situations are causing you
to cut. Is it anger? Pressure to be perfect? Relationship trouble? A painful loss or
trauma? Mean criticism or mistreatment? Identify the trouble you're having, then tell
someone about it. Many people have trouble figuring this part out on their own. This is
where a mental health professional can be helpful.
3. Ask for help. Tell someone that you want help dealing with your troubles and the
cutting. If the person you ask doesn't help you get the assistance you need, ask someone
else. Sometimes adults try to downplay the problems teens have or think they're just a
phase. If you get the feeling this is happening to you, find another adult (such as a
school counselor or nurse) who can make your case for you.
4. Work on it. Most people with deep emotional pain or distress need to work with a
counselor or mental health professional to sort through strong feelings, heal past hurts,
and to learn better ways to cope with life's stresses. One way to find a therapist or
counselor is to ask at your doctor's office, at school, or at a mental health clinic in
Although cutting can be a difficult pattern to break, it is possible. Getting professional
help to overcome the problem doesn't mean that a person is weak or crazy. Therapists and
counselors are trained to help people discover inner strengths that help them heal. These
inner strengths can then be used to cope with life's other problems in a healthy way.