Teens Cutting – part 2

trouble

In my first post about this subject,  I wrote how I found out that, while I was sleeping, a new teens “trend” has started, cutting the body. ( To read my last post click here)

While I was doubtful at first, I soon discovered that the web is full of various “How to stop cutting” advises.

I will reffer to these later, but first I need to admit that the question troubling me the most is: What is the reason for this issue to become so popular lately?

The only thing I could think about is that Facebook is giving the cutting a real boost. While before, girls (and boys also, as I learned) who “cut”, maybe discussed this with close friends, today they discuss it with hundreds. The other side of this is that they get a lot of attention and feedback in Facebook, as I saw in all these “Don’t hurt yourselves” groups. Is it possible that the new attention is helping to spread this out? Can it also be that teens that before would not even think about cutting are getting new ideas? Maybe they like the attention as well?

For sure, for most of the “cutters” this is a pain killer affect.

A very good article that summarizes this penomenon is  here

They confirm that the “cutters” age is getting younger and younger, and mention 11 – 12 years old.

So much for me doubting my daughter’s story.

At the next post I will share several “How to stop cutting” advises that I could find.

And most important: Parental awareness – please be aware to various signs that your kids are in trouble.

See if they are wearing long sleeves when they shouldn’t.

Don’t panic if you learn that your kid cuts, it not a suicidal attempt.

And go get help!

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44 Comments

January 22, 2013 · 10:20 am

44 responses to “Teens Cutting – part 2

  1. I don’t believe that cutting is a new thing, nor has there been a great surgence of it lately. I think it’s probably about the same (I remember it being fairly prevalent in middle school & that was some 15 or so years ago). I think that because of the social media, we are more aware of it now. Cutters are isolated incidents anymore; they are now groups of kids, kids that are classified by something they do. I was never a cutter myself, but I did know people who were & I certainly had my own unhealthy outlets when I was a kid. None of these kids, nor their actions were meant to get attention. It was never seen as a “cool” thing to do. More or less, it was because they were suffering & this was a way to get the hurt & stress out. Like you said, seeing the signs is key…and staying calm about it. Parents should talk openly with their kids BEFORE they get to this age to discuss healthy ways of dealing with emotions, pain, & stress.

  2. Love this post. I too deal with a child who uses this coping mechanism to deal with situations. As it has been “arrested” for now, through ways by, talking openly about it without reacting to the harm it has done physically, mentally and emotionally and going deeper into the reasons that lie beneath it. From my research, it’s a way of dealing with emotions too heavy to handle.
    Thanks for posting this! 🙂

  3. It sounds like there are two issues: cutting and assuming the status of a cutter. When kids don’t get healthy attention they’ll take whatever attention they can get. Parenting is the most important job a parent has, but unfortunately too many of them don’t see it that way.

  4. Cutting became more in the limelight when celebrities admit to it – Demi Lovato being one…she sought help and speaks against it, but impressionable, emotional tweens don’t always process things logically (what?!? are you kidding me?!?) and they hear about it and talk about it and it generally draws attention (good or bad). While I agree with the previous commenter that it’s an outlet for stress, I also think that it is a cry for attention as well.

    Looking forward to your next post on the subject!

  5. Thank you for bringing this out in the open. Cutting and self harm is one of those dark secrets that need to be brought out in the light. And I always stress to parents “TALK WITH YOUR TEENS”. Not at your teens but with them about tough subjects.

  6. I self-injured for more than a dozen years w/o anyone finding out about it because, for me, it wasn’t about the attention. My mother was devastated when she learned (because I told her after I stopped) that I had been deliberately causing myself harm and that she hadn’t noticed it. She felt like a failure and she shouldn’t have. I was just very, very good at hiding things. She and I had a good relationship and everything (really) and we talked about things, but I didn’t tell her about that – it wasn’t her concern, I felt then.

    As someone who did this and who has children now, please let me tell you that yes, your kids need your attention, but please try not to take it on yourself if their self-injury does escape your notice. Especially if they’re older teens when it happens.

    And always make sure they know you love them in their entirety anyway. No matter what they do and say.

  7. Rebeca

    Thanks for visiting my blog! The subject of cutting caught my eye, as I was self-mutilating 30 years ago before there were names for it. I do think that the affirmation that kids get on facebook contributes in part to the swell in numbers. Many of the young women in my sphere are insanely vulnerable to getting sucked into the popular dramas of their peers. I also agree with Sandi’s comments–parents need to be aware, but with some of us, there would be no way to really know. Kids with depression and cutting issues can be very very good at hiding. Open communication, loads of prayers and a willingness to learn ourselves–all keys to helping our kids get through the tough years!

  8. thespid

    I have a self harming daughter, very depressed and she has also attempted suicide recently. For some kids this may be a ‘trend’ for others it’s a deep routed need (my daughter was horrendously bullied at school which we found out about once the cutting begin – and removed her from that school) and without the cutting it develops into suicidal thoughts. Don’t, please, take cutting as ‘not serious’. We talked about it as she grew up, we thought we had brought up healthy world wise children who would cope well in the world. Be vigilant, and be wary. It isn’t attention seeking in a lot of kids, it’s a cry for help. Thank you for bringing into the open more.

    • No, it isn’t attention seeking I am perfectly aware of that now. I am working on the third post in regards, summarizing what I learned so far. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and for sharing, I hope it will get better for all of you very soon.

  9. First off I wouod like say I am sorry to hear that your daughter has to be exposed to this sort of thing. But with social media like Facebook, Twitter, instagram etc. The notion that these things are acceptable is a real issue. I would also like to point oit that due to these “social” media sites it has created a generation of extremely social anti-socialites. I’ll give you an example that completely astounded me. I was with a bunch of my friends and this was about the tike when smartphones really took off, I kid you not it was 8 people around mid-twenties and no one was speaking, everyone was on their phones but they were all talking to each other… at a bar no less. When I asked if anyone wanted to have human contact I recieved looks like I was Aristotle.. a complete heretic to the notion that well were all here together. I believe that human interaction is going by the wayside and we need to bring that back. Great post. Keep em coming

    Sherlock&Watson

  10. Pingback: Mirror | Just a try

  11. I replied here: http://alanonfury.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/mirror/
    It suddenly got too long lol… Thank you for your post, and thank you for caring.

  12. Pingback: ..What I wish I knew when I was a younger teenager | Parker Romney's Life

  13. My daughter cut herself. I didn’t know. She didn’t do it for attention. We got her help, and that meant counseling and, for a while, anti-depressants. This is mainly because, even though she hid it from me at first, because we’d always had a good relationship, eventually she told me. I didn’t for one second think she was doing it for attention, especially given my family’s predisposition to depression. That was her expression of it.

    We made it through, but there were some harrowing episodes.

    I don’t think self-harming behavior is anything new. And I, for one, am glad it’s being talked about.

  14. I’ve heard of cutting before but sort of shrugged it off. Now that I have a little one, it is so scary to think this stuff. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Cutting is not new, but if this is the first time you’ve dealt with it, it is new to you! I’ve worked with adolescents and young adults who are cutters. We work on coping strategies and behavior modification. The key is to know your child by being in touch with them — talk to them not at them! and yes, GET THEM HELP! Because having an unbiased person to talk to can make all the difference. Good luck to you.

  16. When I was a teenager (and some into my young adulthood), I burned myself. I sometimes would discuss this in anonymous chat rooms with others experiencing similar issues as a sort of “virtual support group.” I would never have shared my problems publicly and struggle to understand the private things that are often shared on Facebook. Since my own troubled times I have worked with many young people that have struggled with self-harm issues in a social work capacity. This is something that requires awareness and compassion from responsible adults. I fear that the public forum of Facebook is not a healthy outlet.

  17. Hi Parenting And Stuff, thanks for liking my blog. I am very glad that I currently have small children that aren’t old enough for this to be a concern (yet), but I think all members of society should be aware of self harming behaviour. I agree that social networking has provided a vehicle for hundreds to discuss this, whereas in the past it was probably only brought up amongst a few friends. But I guess that can also be a positive step, it allows an opportunity for education and awareness that didn’t exist previously. Parents can now become aware of issues like this by reading blogs like yours. Bravo for bringing it up!

  18. Hi just noticed your follow up post hun,
    I think and I hate to say it but a lot of the celebrities are being portrayed as cutters and are cutters.
    They are in the public eye and so many young girls aspire to be like them, it isn’t fair to blame them, and of course Im not because its already out there but is it a good thing when they, celebrities, come out and talk about being a cutter, Im really not sure .
    What do you think ?
    loving your blog 🙂
    Victoria xx

    • Thank you for following my blog. Yes I agree with you that celebs coming forward with this are not helping…

      • So scary isn’t it . The kids today have so much

        pressure , I always got bullyied at school by the girls in

        the year above, it was horrendous they really did

        make my life hell, they were horrible, horrible girls.

        I would never have self-harmed though as you are just

        letting people beat you then arnt you ?

        So sad they seem to be in competition who can get

        more scars horrific.

        Thanks for reply 🙂 Hugs Victoria xx

  19. As a youth minister I have dealt with a few “cutters” through out the years. Each case is unique and needs different amounts of attention. That being said I do find that often “cutters” fall into two different categories.

    1. The ones doing it to release pain. These are often the most dangerous. Usually they hide their cutting marks under long sleeve shirts, arm bands, or jeans. They tend to me a little more clever about WHERE they do the cutting because mainly the want to keep it a secret, they do it to feel better and don’t want to be stopped. These kids strongly need to see some professional help and A LOT of love.

    2. The ones doing it for attention. These kids are easier to spot because they were the marks almost as a badge of courage. The usually broadcast it over facebook and wear revealing clothing in an attempt to get someone to notice them. These kids are crying out for someone to love them.

    In the end both types need a lot of love and a lot of conversation. Kids love honesty and are crying out for someone to spend time with them. If you ever feel over your head with this stuff reach out to your youth ministers of therapists.

  20. This is a timely article. Keep up the good work and help make this society wonderful.

  21. Just last week I attended a workshop on this very issue. It’s not so much about attention, and in fact, most cutters get found out rather than disclosing that they are cutting. it’s a way to channel emotional pain. I agree with the warning signs the minister above listed.

  22. I’m a body image advocate and author and I do Body Image/ Eating disorder workshops at schools. Just in the last couple of months, I’ve been contacted by parents and teachers who have noticed an increase in student axiety over food AND cutting. To be honest, I battled severe eating disorder issues as a kid, but cutting just wasn’t on my radar. I think people would be surprised to know how much of an issue it’s becoming and how young the kids who are being affected actually are. Thanks for the post! :o)

  23. rachelxsarah

    I would not say it is a new trend. With social media is has become easier for these kids to talk about it. It also helps bring this issue to light. I am now thirty years old. It has been five years since I last cut myself. From the age of 10 I knew of many children who were cutting. I am glad that is it getting more attention and that parents are learning the signs and how to help their children cope.

  24. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    You are a wonderful parent and are clearly very strong for your daughter. It’s great that you’re shedding some light on self harm.

    I disagree that cutting is a new thing – it has existed for a long time and gone unnoticed. When it has been noticed, it has been labelled as attention seeking without the psychology of the problem being understood.

    I wrote an extensive post about self harm… I made this post private, but reading your blog has made me realise I want it out there. Feel free to share it if you think it might help anyone understand self harm from the mind of someone who self harms:

    http://laurennjade.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/alongtimecoming/

    This is the advice I gave another parent about her self harming daughter. It’s brutally honest and just my own opinion and is not intended to upset or offend – but I believe it to be true and hope it helps someone.

    When my mother discovered that I cut, I was 16 and it had become an addiction. She took me to a doctor who brushed the behaviour off as attention seeking. Alongside this, I told her that I’d stopped, was done with it, to appease her. In reality, it was getting much worse.
    The behaviour is secretive and your daughter will lie to you about it – probably she doesn’t want anyone to know about it, but also she doesn’t want to worry you. It is not your fault that she does this. You should be tactful with how the subject is broached with her – avoid being aggressive, or blaming (even blaming yourself or anyone/anything else should be avoided). It is better if you be honest and say that you would like to understand why she feels she has to do this, what she’s going through, finding out if anything in her life becoming difficult to cope with. I will say that getting help will be more effective if your daughter actually wants help and wants to stop cutting rather than being forced to get help. If you are clever and plan the discussion, you can hint that you think she should get help, or if that is difficult, come to an agreement with her that you would like her to try and get help (see a psychologist or counsellor).
    If this fails I would urge you to worry. Be her parent. If that means psychologists, psychiatrists or hospital admissions, while your daughter may despise you for it in the short term, you are saving her a lifetime of a disruptive and destructive, addictive habit, for which one day she should hopefully thank you.
    If it turns out it was truly a one time thing or attention seeking, that’s great – but if there is even a slight possibility of underlying mental or emotional anguish, help your daughter get a handle on it before it is all she knows.

    Thank you again for getting people talking about this.

  25. It’s actually not anything new. I remember being less than 10 (as my dad was still alive) and watching a 90210 episode about cutting. In my teen years 7th Heaven did an episode about cutting. It wasn’t new then either. In the past it’s been linked, like drinking sherry, to lonely mid-aged housewives, sadly it’s not exclusive to them. Cutting is the new aneroxia, it’s the way for unhappy teens to try to take control of their emotions, to stop the chaos that exists in their head. Sadly it’s addicting and can easily get the best of them.

    Why haven’t you heard about it before? The answer is a simple one, shame. Parents and officials sadly put their own feelings of horror, on inability to understand ahead of the mental health of their child and kept it all secret. Maybe they did it with the best of intentions but on some level it tells the child that their is something wrong with them, that they are bad, or horrorifying.

    I for one am glad for sites, any sites, that try to offer help and to end the cycle of silence.

  26. I have always linked the recent trend in self-harm to the ’emo’ music scene that exploded a few years back, it may just have been because I was a teenager at the time. I definitely agree though that Facebook and celebrity ‘cutters’ make the issue worse… while exposure of the subject could encourage those already self-harming to get help, it also makes it seem more acceptable to people who would never have considered it before. I had never even thought about hurting myself until a friend told me she did it, suddenly it seemed like a good way to deal with the pain and stress of being an adolescent. After some months of hiding and making excuses for my injuries, I realised that it had become a real problem and started becoming more open about what I was doing, in the hope that some one would help me. My self-harm turned from a pain-releasing mechanism (as I overcame some of the problems I had been having) into an attention seeking act when I found it really hard to stop. I know a lot of people have said this, but it is SO important that your daughter feels that she can talk to you about issues like this, the fact that she feels able to tell you about her friends’ cutting shows that she trusts you and is more likely to open up about any emotional turmoil she may be experiencing. Make sure you keep up to date with issues related to teenage depression (such as the media and body image, how the state of the economy affects young people’s options for the future etc.) and ask her how she feels about these, she may not want to approach you with ‘her’ problems even if she wants to talk about them. Good luck!

  27. From the research I’ve done and from my personal experience, it seems that many of what people of all ages are experiencing in the realm of emotional disorders and the like could be coming from food or chemical sensitivities, nutritional deficiencies, glucose level issues, hormonal disorders or metal/chemical toxicities. These things definitely affect how our bodies and minds respond to stress. I took my son to a nutritionist for anxiety and it was revealed that he probably has severe zinc, magnesium, B vitamin deficiencies and has just started taking supplements. He has only taken them for two days so far and he said they make him feel “weird” in a good way. Teens love the word weird. The nutritionist has ordered an extensive panel of blood tests that will address looking into all of the possibilities I listed above. The testing could prove to be expensive but it is well worth it. I had taken him to an Endocrinologist. He said he needs more protein. Protein deficiencies can be responsible for all kinds of things so he is eating more protein. I feel that any child or adult experiencing emotional/mental challenges should be checked out by several specialists if necessary especially an allergist, nutritionist and/or an endocrinologist. Disorders or any kind require meticulous attention, deep analysis and investigation. I do not take anti-depressants or any of that stuff medical doctors get their kickbacks from, what I call “chemical cocktails.” I refuse to give my son that stuff. The side effects can be devastating. I am not a doctor and I am not advising anyone else to take my stance on that issue but I am adamant about it when it comes to my family. I intend to record my son’s progress in some way in order to try to help others and keep my son on track. Good luck to everyone!

  28. Thank you for this blog post. You have opened my eyes to a problem or disorder that I have heard of but did not know was so prevalent amongst our teens. I must be getting old.
    .It is something that I will take notes on in case it comes up in my ministry.

  29. Great post thank you. I am no expert on this topic but 2 things strike me from the one professional encounter I have had with someone who self-harmed. The person in question said: “Cutting myself is the only time in my life when I am in charge of the pain and can control it. All the other stuff that hurts me is beyond my power to influence.”

    (I was coaching this person on a completely different and much ‘easier’ topic but when all this came up I immediately referred her to a hypnotherapist as I felt coaching would not be powerful enough to deal with this depth of suffering…)

    Anyway, with my ‘Buddhist hat’ on I will add one more view: I think any sort of self-harm comes from a deep inability to feel in your heart that your LIFE is a PRECIOUS TREASURE. It took me 15 months of depression and 28 years of Buddhist practice to get this lesson. (Of course some people don’t need such an experience to get this lesson, they are naturally grateful for their lives every day they wake up, but my karma was different…)

    I did an FB post on this topic last week which said: “Begin every day knowing that your Life is precious. It is the fundamental platform for everything: Love, Gratitude, Determination, Justice, Respect and Hope – all those ‘treasures of the heart’ and many more besides. When you know in your heart that Life is precious, you will find it easier to look after your health, beat depression, fight for others’ happiness and take action when your ‘gremlins’ want you to procrastinate or do nothing. It is a great way to live.”

    David Hare
    The Buddhist Life Coach
    facebook.com/thankingthespoon

    • Thank you, this is very interesting.

    • “Cutting myself is the only time in my life when I am in charge of the pain and can control it. All the other stuff that hurts me is beyond my power to influence.” I really relate to this quote. I did some slight cutting in my 50’s when I was in the midst of a severe psychotic experience with my Bipolar Disorder. It was all about the pain I was having since I also have chronic intractable pain. I just needed a release and cutting did it for me for a little while. It’s not just kids who do this I’m afraid. I found others who were older too who did it. It’s not necessarily a cry for attention. It wasn’t in my case but it did help me get thru some hard times. But it was a bad choice and now I have scars up and down my arms. I wrote a post on it awhile ago in my blog, which you so kindly visited recently. Thanks for doing so. It’s a real issue and I feel desperately for those who do it. It’s awful.

      Thanks for posting this article to help people become aware of the issue,
      Steve

  30. Cutting is definitely NOT a new thing. When I was a teen in 1975 a close friend was doing it.

    My husband and I have a rule for our two 12-year-olds. They are not allowed (we monitor their internet use) to create any accounts on any social media unless the service will accept their REAL age. The minimum age for facebook is 13.

  31. As bad as that is, it is not just the teenagers. I remember a beautiful girl age 7 on my caseload. She started cutting her face, arms and hands after viewing commercials on TV about Father’s Day. She was afraid that the Court would make her see her father.

  32. This has been going on for a very long time. When a friend’s daughter was hospitalized for anorexia, she was one of many cutting – and that was 10 years ago. Listen to the lyrics of the Goo Goo Dolls song “Iris” – “And you bleed just to know your alive.” Its rampant.

  33. Thanks for visiting my blog. There has to be a better ways to know you are alive!. And ‘yes’ I believe that the media’s need to sensationalize causes more of this response. Cultivate such a closeness to your children that they know their value to you and in themselves. Listen to them tell of their needs and help meet those need together.

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