GOOD SAMARITAN: Cutting in preteens and adolescents

There has been an alarming increase in self-injury among preteens and adolescents. In a recent study, 15 percent of adolescents reported intentional self-injury; with 70-90 percent being cutting.

There are many forms of self-injury, but cutting is the most common. Cutting involves self-injury with a sharp object; such as razor blade, scissors or finger nails. There is a characteristic patterns of straight lines typically seen in cutting that differs from animal or environmental injuries.

Adults frequently believe that self-harm is a precursor to suicide. Youth view self-harm as a way to cope with life. Self-harm in teens is rarely intended to be lethal. Individuals with low self-esteem, a history of trauma/abuse, family problems, poor school performance, or individuals who are bullied have a greater risk for self-injury.

Self-harm is often used to transfer emotional pain into physical pain (easier to cope with), to impose self-punishment over perceived inadequacies/failures; to suppress anger, or to identify with and be part of a social group. Teens learn about self-harm through friends and the internet. There are different internet sites that encourage this behavior.

Self-injury may be a quick and easy way to stop negative feelings, but the problem is still there. Addictive patterns are seen in cutting; it is used to stop negative feelings and provide a sense of euphoria.

This can lead to a vicious cycle of self-destructive behavior. The recent popularity in teen cutting may be another fad; which gains popularity quickly, then fades just as fast. Adults who notice self-injury should stay calm, avoid judging, voice your concerns, and then listen. Seek emergency services if a preteen or adolescent says they plan to kill themselves; this is lethal intent.                  

If Samaritan Counseling Center can be of assistance, contact us at (432)563-4144