Youth & Teen Cutting-there are at least 7 important things parents of middle, high school, and college kids need to be aware of.
Have you heard of the term cutting?
No– not cutting school.
No– not cutting a ribbon for a new opening.
No– not cutting costs, carbs, or social media.
Cutting yourself. Self-harm. Self-injury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains cutting is intentionally causing injury to self.
#1 What is it?
When alone, someone takes scissors, a knife, razor or other sharp object and slices or scratches a part of their body. It can be done anywhere on their body. They can also receive the same effects by burning their bodies with fire. Matches, cigarettes, or vapes are quick tools to inflict self-harm.
#2 What’s it look like?
The Mayo Clinic explains you may see:
- Patterned scarring
- Scratches, bruises, cuts, burns, or other wounds
- Long sleeves or pants are worn even when it’s hot to cover scars
#3 How does it feel?
When conducting self-injury the Mayo Clinic reports there is a sensation of calm and relief of tensions that come however, it is then followed by heavier feelings of shame, guilt, and the original burden.
#4 Why cut?
There are different answers for each youth or teen cutting as they may be attempting to:
- Punish themselves for something they think they did wrong
- Express depression
- Show their internal feelings
- Just feel something, anything, even physical pain
- Find a sense of control over something
- Dictate a distraction from painful thoughts or emotions
- Provide a sense of temporary relief of severe distress or anxiety
#5 Underlying reasons why?
There is no easy reason why for each person. Typically self-injury stems from:
- Unable to cope with an issue of psychological pain.
- Trouble handling, expressing, understanding, or regulating emotions.
#6 Risky Business
- Suicide risk increases since self-harm is being inflicted to handle stress
- Cuts turn into permanent body scars or deformation
- Low self-esteem, guilt, shame, disgrace deepen
- Infections could occur from unclean wounds
#7 Next Steps
- The following are warning signs from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Stark County for when professional help may be needed.
- Feeling irritable, angry, anxious, depressed, lonely, or constantly sad
- Reliving traumatic events in your mind
- Isolating yourself
- Experiencing compassion fatigue, burnout, or moral injury
- Difficulty to sleep or sleeping too much
- Body having problems with digestion, appetite, memory, pain, etc.
- Stark County NAMI has free support groups via ZOOM
NAMI has reported that 1 in 6 youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health condition each year.
Cutting could be a Suicide Warning Signal
Not all people who cut are suicidal. They are trying to handle their emotions and feelings but in an unhealthy way. Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) created a family guide for youth suicide prevention that can be found here. The most recent Ohio Department of Health Suicide demographic and trend report was released April 5, 2021. Data reports showed that youth suicides (ages 10-24) increased between February and August of 2020. It also shows that there were more male youth suicides than female.
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