Cutting is a self-injury, usually to the arms but can also be to the stomach and legs, produced by dragging a sharp object across the skin with enough pressure to cut the skin. Teenage girls are the most at risk for cutting (4x’s as likely). Although it may seem like cutting is an attention seeking behavior, most people who cut are very self-conscious about their wounds and hide them under long sleeves, even in the summertime. Cutting provides temporary relief from pain, sadness and conflicted feelings.


  • Overwhelming emotion
  • Sorrow
  • Rage
  • Rejection
  • Undeveloped decision making and problem solving skills
  • Withdrawal
  • Relationship issues

What is normal?

Adolescence is a time when problem solving and decision making skills are being developed. Since they are still under development it is sometimes difficult for young people to appropriately resolve conflict and to fully express themselves. The lack of these developmental skills is clearly visible when a teenager is under extreme stress. At these times it is normal to have emotional swings, angry outbursts, and to withdraw but when the strong feelings associated with emotional stress turn to self-injury it’s time to seek help.

When to seek help:

You should seek help if your child:

  • Becomes non communicative
  • Wears long sleeves all the time or always covers his or her body
  • Has experienced a traumatic event such as the loss of a loved one or abuse of any kind
  • Feels extreme pressure to be perfect
  • Can’t handle emotions or any kind of criticism
  • Feels desperate
  • Has difficulty with self-expression and internalizes emotions

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