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Do You Think Your Teen Is Cutting? You're Not Alone

If you suspect your teen is cutting, the first question you might ask is: Why? What drives an individual to cut?

Many times, the urge to cut stems from underlying depression, and is a physical way for a person to feel relief from the tension or stress she may have in her life. The Self Injury Foundation lists some other reasons, including:

  • To distract from emotional pain.
  • To punish oneself.
  • To feel "real" by feeling pain and seeing evidence of injury.
  • To numb feelings, in an attempt to not feel anything.
  • To communicate pain, anger, or other emotions to oneself or to others.
  • To nurture oneself through caring for wounds.
  • The warning signs
    The lack of statistics on cutting makes it even more important for parents to be vigilant about the warning signs of cutting and NSSI. Mental Health America provides some possible warning signs, such as:

  • Frequent and unexplained injuries, including cuts and burns.
  • Wearing long pants and sleeves in warm weather.
  • Difficulty handling feelings.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Difficulty functioning at school, work, or home.
  • Another worrying trend is that modern technology may encourage people to talk about, even glorify, cutting. Teams at Cornell University and Stanford University are beginning to study the impact self-injury websites have on cutters, and are using studies that have been done on pro-eating disorder websites as a jumping-off point for their research.



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