Cutting: A cry for help
When I was in high school I knew kids who drank heavily. I knew about kids who took drugs and in my Grade 9 year someone committed suicide. But I did not know any students who cut themselves. Fast forward to 2010 and ask my niece about cutting in her high school and she’ll tell you in a quiet voice, “I know a lot of kids who do that.”
Teens and young adults have always walked a treacherous road of new experiences, changing hormones and very little experience. It is often overwhelming, sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a few years. I can only imagine what it’s like to be a teen now with your whole life on Facebook, open and vulnerable to the world. Everyone finds a different way to deal with the pain, some that are healthy, many that not. More and more teens are turning to cutting.
When I first saw Dena Yohe’s article “Understanding Cutting” my first response was, “I don’t want to know.” Cutting is a painful reality and I didn’t want to think about these beautiful kids taking a blade to their own body. I didn’t want to think about a line of blood and a scar forever. But I’m the grown-up now, which means I should not turn away. Where possible I need to educate myself so that if I’m ever faced with this situation I can help.
Yohe’s article is excellent primer for anyone who knows someone who is cutting or may know someone in the future. Mistakenly I thought cutting was a dark obsession, like a love of horror movies taken too far. But that’s not it at all. As Yohe explains, “People cut to deal with difficult problems or feelings they cannot verbally express.” Cutting is a cry for help.
Her advice on how to help is clear and straight forward. She writes:
If you have suspicions, go ahead and ask them about it. Friends with cutting problems are often glad to be able talk about it. If you bring it up and this person isn’t self-injuring, it won’t start just because you said something about it. If they leave their wounds uncovered so that you can see them, they want you to ask them about it. Offer options but don’t tell your friend what to do. If someone’s using cutting or some other kind of self-injury as a way to feel in control, it won’t help if you try to take control of the situation. Helping someone see ways to get help – like talking to a parent, pastor, teacher, school counselor or mental health professional- may be the best thing you can do.
If you or someone you know is struggling, we have mentors available 24/7 who can help. Just use this form to send in your question and a mentor will email you back, usually in just a couple of days. If you’d like to learn more about healthy ways to deal with anxiety try our free Life Lesson: Dealing with Anxiety.