Cutting & Self Injury

“I made 106 cuts yesterday. Some were deep, some little ones. I know I need to stop doing this to myself, but I don’t know how.” – 16-year-old


Self-Injury, or “cutting” refers to any sort of self-harm which involves inflicting injuries or pain on one’s own body. Once seen and treated as a suicide attempt, trained mental health professionals now define the act of cutting as an unhealthy coping mechanism designed to immediately alleviate tension, anxiety, stress and depression. In other words, when reality feels overwhelming, some turn to cutting themselves, several times a day, with sharp objects in order to relieve their inner pain.


Warning signs of someone who is self injuring include:

Increased layering of jewelry, clothing, or drawings over particular surfaces of the body

  • Wearing jackets, sweatshirts, etc. on hot days
  • Blood stains on clothing, sheets, tissues
  • Sharp objects in person’s belongings
  • Wanting to be alone for long periods of time
  • Frequent excuses of “accidental” wounds

What are the dangers of self-injury?

  • Although cutting may provide temporary relief, the issues continue. Nothing really changes!
  • The more you self-harm, the more tolerant you become to the pain. It will take a greater amount of pain to achieve the same sense of relief as you once felt.
  • Since it’s hard to judge how deep you’re cutting, it can lead to blood loss, stitches, and hospitalization. Not all people who cut are suicidal, but it can lead to serious injuries.
  • Non-sterile cutting objects can lead to severe infections, particularly if used repeatedly, such as razors, scissors, and safety pins. Burns can get easily infected too.
  • Teens that cut often can’t stop. The more they do it, the more they feel they need to. It becomes an addition.

How can someone get help if they are cutting?

If you are the person who is cutting, find out what triggers make you want to cut, then find new ways to deal with them. Talking with a therapist or counselor about new ways to cope can help. It can be hard to stop but many teens have gotten help and never cut again. Next time you feel the urge to hurt yourself, try one of the methods below:

  • Take a shower (with no razors)
  • Go for a walk or play a sport
  • Draw, paint, or write
  • Listen to music or play an instrument
  • Read a book or magazine, or watch your favorite movie
  • Wear a rubberband and snap it

Regardless of someone’s background, the common link in all self-injurers is the need for consistent, relationship-oriented support, nurturance, and guidance. In addition to the constant struggle with the desire to cut one’s own body, eating disorders, hair pulling, piercing, skin picking, and skin burning are other conditions that may co-exist with cutting.


Helping a Friend

  1. Don’t accuse or be combative. They need your support and understanding to talk about it. Don’t judge or make them feel bad.
  2. Acknowledge their feelings. Many turn to cutting to feel in control of their overwhelming feelings.
  3. Share healthy ways to deal with your emotions- walk, listen to music, journal, etc.
  4. Keep lines of communication open. Let them know you are concerned and want to help. Also, tell a trusted adult.

If you or someone you know is inflicting pain upon their body, the following resources and services are available to help.


David & Margaret Youth and Family Services

Residential and outpatient treatment program for self-injury, eating disorders, internet addiction, and substance abuse. 

1350 3rd St,
La Verne, CA 91750



Door of Hope 4 Teens

Hotline and texting services provides advice for teens who struggle with cutting, depression, eating disorders, bullying, and other emotional struggles. Also provides email advice on website.


Sun, Tues, Thurs 8:30pm-10:30pm EST                                                             


Safe Alternatives

Support for those who engage in repetitive self-harm behaviors.24hr recording.

South Haven, MI



The Butterfly Project –

Online support community for those struggling with engaging in self harm

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