My 14 year old daughter is cutting herself and I don't know how to help her...

[deleted account] ( 5 moms have responded )

As I write this, I am holding back tears.
I found out yesterday that my daughter is cutting herself. I don't know how long this has been going on but I am at a loss of how to help her. When I asked her about the cut marks on her wrists, she admitted to cutting herself, said she wasn't trying to kill herself - but also stated that she doesn't want to see a therapist. Her reasoning for it is that she "feels like she is a disappointment to us" resulting in the drop of her grades of late. I believe I am the cause for this because I may have pushed her too hard in her academics. She also stated she won't do it again but I am not so sure...I never in a million years thought she would ever intentionally hurt herself. Do I take her to an ER and make them admit her for psychiatric evaluation/observation? Should I make her see a therapist? Should I inform her school counselor and/or take her out of her honors courses in school? Where do I start? I need help to save my baby...


Kay - posted on 03/26/2012




Get a therapist who specializes in addiction. Don't make it optional.

The real problem with cutting is that over time it creates a pseudo-physiological need--each time a cut is made, the endorphins the body releases to deal with pain creates a natural "high". This is dangerous for many reasons, the first being cutting becomes an addiction. Once it progresses far enough, the "cutter" CAN'T stop themselves--they are as stuck as a heroine addict or an alcoholic. Another is that, like drugs, to meet the addiction's needs, cutting can get progressively worse over time.

Suicide is not usually a main concern in cutters--most of them are actually looking for ways to cope with their lives, not end them. However, because of the nature of the addiction, a cutter will use ANYTHING to cut, which puts them at risk for blood poisoning, various infections, and even tetanus. Some examples of things that my sister (we've gotten this information from her treatment) has used? Nails. Xacto blades. Thumbtacks. Scissors. She's taken apart pencil sharpeners. Razors, of course. The moral of the story? Anything can be used to cut. Sanitation is not an issue for a cutter.

In the short term, check and see if her tetanus booster is up to date. Find a team to deal with it as an addiction. Since she is only fourteen, you have a really good chance to stop it before she progresses further.

Amanda - posted on 03/26/2012




My daughter has been a 'cutter'. Her therapist advised me to not make a big deal of it, just monitor her for any signs of illness or worsening of her emotional symptoms. It is crucial that your daughter see a counselfor to help her deal with life in a more apporopiate way.

As a mother whose daughter has/is cutting, I sympathize with your worries. It is very upsetting to know that your child is suffering so and as 'mommy' you can't fix everything. I like one of the other posters suggestions to seek counseling for yourself as well. Good luck and know you are not alone AND this issue your daughter is having does not mean that she will not become a happy functioning adult!

Tabitha - posted on 03/26/2012




You may not be able to force her to talk but you can force her to go to therapy. Let the therapist get her talking that's what they're trained to do. There my be several sessions where they just sit there or the therapist does all the talking. Eventually, she'll trust them enough to say something. Also, if her honors classes are too hard for her, ask her if she would like to go back to the regular ones. Make sure she knows that this is not a disappointment to you.

Kate CP - posted on 03/26/2012




To add to what Kay S has said (because she's fairly right on the money) many cutters start out cutting to deal with emotional pain. That's how I started and luckily I got help before it became an addiction. She may not WANT therapy but she NEEDS therapy.

[deleted account]

At the very least inform the school counselor and speak to a therapist that specializes in dealing w/ troubled teens. You can't force her to talk to anyone, but this is definitely not something that should be ignored. She needs help dealing w/ whatever feelings are causing her to cut and you need helping learning how to help her best. YOU talking to a counselor first about your daughter can help get that started.

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