Q&A on Cutting

QUESTION: A number of students at my high school are “cutters.” Why do they do that?

ANSWER: “Cutting” has become a popular behavior among some of today’s youth, but few adults know much about it or understand it. “Cutting” is just one method of self-injury that is practiced today. Other methods include eating disorders, burning, beating, or alcohol/drug abuse.

A cutter often uses razor blades or a sharp knife to cut parts of the body in areas that are not readily noticed. Areas commonly cut are arms and thighs, but virtually all parts of the body, other than the face, could be cut. The cuts are deep enough to draw blood and often leave some scarring.

There are two reasons for most cutting: 1) A depressed or frustrated person might feel they have no control over their lives, or their pain. Cutters can control their own pain when they cut. 2) Cutting becomes addictive. The sense of relief or even euphoria leads to repeat cutting.

Unfortunately, cutting is becoming a fad in many middle and high schools. It is good to talk to your adolescent child about this behavior and watch for any signs of cutting. In particular, watch for those who wear long sleeves or pants even during hot weather.

In most cases, cutting is not meant as a method of suicide. Rather it is a way to deal with emotional pain. Cutting, therefore, should not be ignored. It is a sign that a person is calling out for help. If you realize someone is cutting, or practicing some other form of self-injury, encourage them to seek professional counseling.

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