Teenagers who cut themselves. Why? and what can be done to stop it?

Catherine - posted on 09/21/2009 ( 19 moms have responded )

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Recently, I had discovered that my teenage daughter was cutting herself. I noticed one day while speaking with her that there were scratches on her arm. At first I thought, maybe she scratched herself on a tree branch or something. But when I raised her sleeve, there were more. Immediately, I sought help from a therapist (who was fired) she disregarded us for an appointment that she was late for. Anyway, my daughter stopped after we had several discussions. There was never a clear reason as to why she started this but a medical reason was that she created an outlet for herself when she gets frustrated. It is her way of dealing with the matter. An unhealthy way but her outlet. Well, she has started back again and now I am frustrated because she can graduate to more severe cutting. What can I do?

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Janelle Ann - posted on 03/18/2013

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Recently,, I got a phone call from the school counselor that my 15 year old daughter was cutting herself on her arm.I was in shock when she told me.I dont know what to do? She said why she was cutting herself because of her dad yelling about everthing and no positive feed back and not beng able to do anything.One of her friends is also doing it of the same reasons.We talked to her and other family memeber talk to her but she is still doing it! Im hurt and sacred for my daughter and i dont know what to do!! Help me please!!

Grace - posted on 11/26/2013

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Hello, I am a 15 year old girl, and my friend, as well as I, cut. There are several reasons tht my friend cuts, so I'll start with her. She has home issues and feels like she can't talk to her parents. She had troubles at school, bad test marks and some friend trouble. On top of that, she got anxious easily. A combination of all those problems and medical depression sent her to the relief that a razor blade brings. She went to the hospital for about a week when her dad found out, and that is where she got diagnosed with depression. I can happily say she doesn't do it anymore, or at least not that often. Now, I have a completely different story. For me, I am an overweight teen, and I'm not afraid to admit that I truly hate myself. I hate the way I look, the way I act, how others treat me because of these things. Everything. Above all, I hate the way I look the most. I'm overweight, and it bothers me. I started cutting as a way to punish myself when I ate to much. I have up eating any meal my parents weren't there for, and barfing back half of what I did eat. If I ate to much, I would give myself a cut, but that quickly escalated. I started to have lower grades and I had a lot of stress from that. When I got a bad test back, I would start to panic. The only way I could calm myself down was to cut, and a lot. Also, if I was distracted by something while I was doing home work or school work, I found that hurting myself helped me clear my head, think better, and pay attention. I hate what I do to myself, but it is one of the best coping mechanisms that I have. I don't want anyone to find out because it is embarrassing.
Now, I have some advice. If you find out your child is cutting, don't freak out. You need to calmly talk to them. Show absolutely no disappointment or anger, only concern and love. From my personal experience, most teens would feel embaressed to have done this, and disappointed in themselves. We don't want to do this, it's just one of the only ways we know. Avoid a therapist at first. Remember, this is shameful in your teens eyes, they want as little people to know as possible. If you see other odd behaviors in your teen that might point to mental illness at all, then by all means, get them there soon, but if not, then don't over react. Also, don't take away the things they use to cut. Probably, your teen knows how to avoid infections and how to treat their wounds. Razor blade cuts are clean and heal fast. If you take the blade away, because this behavior is abdicating, they might use something more dangerous, like scissors or broken glass. The most important point I can push is be kind, caring, patient, and don't freak out. If my parents found out I am cutting, then I would like them to help me out of it, not force me. Truthfully, the person that is cutting must decide to stop. Not their parent.
Good luck with everything, I hope that you can help your kids. Cutting is serious and it might have many causes. Make sure you identify them and help the situations stop.
Have a good day :)

Keith - posted on 11/09/2013

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That's amazing my son is 16 and has been cutting for at least 7 months. I brought him to a hospital for two weeks gone through 3 therapists and one psych during this time. he was kicked out of school this past week for cutting. Its great to hear a success story.

Sheri - posted on 09/24/2009

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First, after the shock wears off, I think you pray. Pray and don't stop. The next step is to find a good therapist to work with your daughter or you and your daughter. Chances are the issue goes much deeper then "it's the thing to do socially." When you find out what the trigger for the cutting is and can address the issue, it's likely to stop when she learns new coping techniques. Cutters want validation and emotional release. Usually a cutter is in alot of emotional turmoil and pain. Sometimes we as a parent can't see that or understand the need to cut. Just love your daughter unconditionally, continue to pray, and seek a therapist who can help open up the dialogue between the two of you.

User - posted on 09/25/2009

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Get a new therapist. She won't stop without help. You may think she has, but she will just be hiding it from you.

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Graeme - posted on 07/27/2014

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Sorry to hear about your problem. But I wouldn't get too worried if I was you. Your daughter has an outlet, which though it is messy and a bit dangerous, is better than no outlet at all.

Jessica - posted on 11/20/2013

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I'm sort of in your situation. I found my 15 year old sister that I've been providing for has been cutting her thighs. I pray for you and your daughter in hopes that she finds a healthier outlet for her emotions. There are plenty of books out there for people who don't want therapy, and therapists that are very good at positively influencing adolecents if you so choose to ask for their guidance. Look at all the options available to you, and pick what you believe will work best for your daughter. I very much respect and admire the fact that you as a mother are doing your very best to protect your daughter. There are many parents that just push it off as overreacting. Your daughter is very lucky.

Jean - posted on 03/02/2013

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I went thru this with my son. It went on for several years. He was hospitalized 3 times in a 2 month period. He is now happy, has a steady job and getting ready to be engaged to be married. The best advice i can give is listen to your child, ask questions, be attentive, get a good counselor, if you dont like their advice or your child doesnt relate to them, get another one until you find one who works well with your child. My son didnt go thru a special facility, he went to the local hospital psych ward for help when it got extreme. I am thankful we made it thru this time, as I am a single mom with my son being an only child

Wanda - posted on 02/13/2013

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Hi Catherine, I too am a mother of a cutter. She is my granddaughter and we have raised her since birth. We would love to find a place for her to go that has group therapy. She say she WANTS TO WANT to stop cutting. We are seeing a good counselor right now but she is not willing to give up her razor blades. We live in a small town in North Carolina, where there are no places here for the kind of treatment that she is wanting.

Does anyone anywhere know of a facility that i could get her into, as she wants to go. We live in Shelby, NC

PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN.

Alison - posted on 09/24/2009

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Hi there. Its really scary when you first notice your kids self harming. My daughter was doing this for several months and eventually was admitted to a pyschological hospital. She was 18 at the time (she is now nearly 20). She also suffers from epilepsy and I think it was a release for her with her frustration about her epilpsey. She told me she enjoyed the self harming and found it soothing. I was motified and felt pangs of guilt, thinking it was something I did, or didnt do. Her body was covered in scars and I was forever hiding sharp objects around the house, to no avail. If they want to do it, they will find anything. Sadly its very common for girls to self harm and there is no real explanation. The best advise I can give is to sit down with her and try to find other ways of dealing with her frustrations and let her know that you are there for her to support and help her with any problems she may have.
Hope this was helpful

User - posted on 09/23/2009

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I work at a local high school, where my daughter is a senior. She has a friend that graduated last year who was/is a cutter. She told me that being teased at school and the difficulties at home were so painful that cutting was a release. She told me that being a teenage girl was so difficult and there were times that it just didn't seem worth it. She stopped cutting on her arms and started cutting on her legs and stomach so it couldn't be noticed by others. She just happened to raise her hand in class a little too high and I noticed the cut marks. I was her sounding board and placed no judgement on her. I did try to get her to see that she was worth so much more than that and she spent a lot of time out our home. I do believe that things are much harder for kids than when I was younger. So many more "peer pressures" and such. I will be praying for your daughter and all the others that are cutting. Hugs and prayers, Teresa

Penny - posted on 09/23/2009

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Find a therapist no matter how long it takes she is crying out for help so did my daughter and i didn't know it til she got help on her own. Don't feel bad because you didn't know teenagers don't tell you everything that was several yrs ago and we have a better relationship now

[deleted account]

So glad to hear you are seeking help Catherine,as i said my daughter is being helped from a therapist at my hospital who is also helping her through her depression,its so sad to see one of your children harming themselves and at times i have felt completely helpless,but i feel now that she is on the right road to recovery from this and we see more of the 'old' megan coming through,hang in there things do get better..good luck :o) Deb

Catherine - posted on 09/22/2009

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Thank you all for sharing and providing excellent advice. My daughter was hiding her for a while. She had cuts on her legs too as well as her arms. I spoke with her and stressed the dangers of cutting especially on her legs. It is true that they do not want to hurt but it is an outlet. She had stopped for at least 8 months but recently started up again. Currently, I am searching for a good therapist to receive additional assistance. Thanks again all!

Kathleen - posted on 09/21/2009

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My daughter went through the same thing I out her in the hospital twice. It's the hardest thing to do but getting help is very important. Also letting tehm know you are there and no matter what you will help them and be there helps a lot. My dughter has promised me she won't cut anymore and will come to me if she has a desire to do so. In addition to the couseling having her do on line school and also being responsible for a dog and a bird helped a great deal. Every kid is differant and you need to be able to find out why and how you should deal with it.

Kay - posted on 09/21/2009

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Cstherine, I hope this helps a little been through the cutting with 2 teen age girls. The case with my first 1 was for control. She felt she had no control over things and cutting was the 1 thing she could control. She saw a counslor for about 6 monthes and was cutting the entire time. The one thing that stopped her was when her dad showed how upset he was( not in a good manner) yelling and he hit the wall. she then realized she had more control over things then she thought. My other daughter was doing it for attention. we talked and started hanging out a little and she stopped. In my research cutting is being called this generations anarexia it's a control issue and they are not trying to hurt themselves badly just have some control. a good book to read is titled CUT.

Sharon - posted on 09/21/2009

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I was going through that myself with my son, I have talked to several people that have gone through this, as well as having a in home therapist three times a week as well as another one we see once a month.
My son started with the "scratches" on his arms, the problem was he wanted to see his dad which is in prison, and I will not allow it because he is dangerous,and to live with his grandparents, I tried the talking and then told him to just stop, it worked, until he got the idea of "cutting" from a friend, because that is what gets a huge reaction from people and gets the child "what they want" my son did that, went to school and made it known, they brought the crisis workers in, not knowing, they just figured he was in danger, my son said he wanted to go live with his grandparents, the workers said can we try this, and said this in front of my son,not realizing they just took everything I had been working on away (mind you the worker that was first working with us was 23 yrs, with no children), so I said ok let him live with his grandparents, two days later, he started again, with he didn't think he could be safe at grandparents and not "hurt himself", we he got the crises group involved again, he thought he needed to be in woodridge, I told them to do it, he spent a week there, on suicide watch, he came out was a different child, our in home therapist has been wonderful and has seen first hand that he "wanted something" it is said that true "cutters" don't scratch they cut, and keep them where people can't see, they do that to hurt themselves so they don't hurt someone else.
I had to show my son that hurting himself wasn't the way to go by putting locks on all about everything in the house, he couldn't go outside without a parent being with him, he was on lock down, it was a very long road and stressful, you never know what is gonna happen next, it can start with something simple like someone looking at them wrong or "picking" on them, and it snowballs, and children their age can't see past the nose on there face to see what can really happen. I tell my kids all the time "For every action, there is a reaction". good luck and hang in there. watch her signals, her actions, it could be something very simple that starts it. Therapist can be great, its just finding the one for your family that clicks with you and your daughter, and is not there to judge you.

Carmen - posted on 09/21/2009

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HI CATHERINE,



THIS IS A WAY OF LETTING SOME FRUSTRATION OUT THERES A HORMONE CALLED ENDOPHINE I THINK I SPELLED IT RIGHT AND WHEN KIDS CUT THEMSELVES THIS HORMONE IS RELEASED AND IT MAKES THEM FEEL GOOD SO !!! I KNOW U WENT TO A THERAPIST BUT!! PLEASE SEEK MORE HELP OTHER THAN YOURSELF....BECAUSE SHE CAN CUT TO DEEP & GOD FORBID AND DON'T MEAN IT.... TRY TO DO THINGS TOGETHER THINGS SHE LOVES TO DO, THINGS THAT MAKE HER FEEL GOOD .... UMMM !!!! I READ THATS SOME SORT OF WANTING TO BELONG .... THESE KIDS ARE CALLED EMOS.... BUT !!! I HOPE AND PREY FOR YOU AND YOUR DAUGHTER ALWAYS LET HER KNOW YOU ARE THERE NO MATTER WHAT.... THIS IS A TIME TO BE A FRIEND ......

[deleted account]

Hi Catherine

I know exactly how you must feel,as my daughter was 'self harming' herself from the age of 15 (2006) up until earlier this year.The most saddest for me was the fact that i never even noticed or knew of it,as she hid it so well,then the day came where she came to me and told me,she said she couldnt tell me incase i got angry,i hugged her and said 'NOOOO! no way am i angry,i just wish she had told me sooner so i could help. i couldnt understand as i had never been faced with anything like this before,i felt confusion amongst other emotions,I asked her why she was doing this,and,as you state with your daughter,it was when she was angry and frustrated,she saw it as a release,as soon as she had done it she said all the pent up feelings had gone,she used to cry along with it too.She is now seeing a doctor at the hospital,and gradually we are finding out things that we feel contributed to the way she was feeling.She hasnt self harmed now for a few months ,so now we are hoping she just keeps climbing up and up .Hope this helps a little :O) tc Deb

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