Cutting. Self-injury. Self-mutilation. It sounds horrible. Many, especially parents, cannot fathom why on earth anyone would cut themselves. Having worked with many “cutters,” I’ve found people who cut cannot talk about the intense pain they feel. Instead of confiding in someone, they isolate themselves and use a sharp object to cut on their skin. It’s a way to cope. It’s a way to feel something. It’s a way to hurt in a different way. Many cutters have experienced abuse of some type, i.e. physical, sexual or emotional. Many also have concurrent eating disorders. Most cutters feel intense guilt and shame about the cutting. You would never know most cutters do what they do, because they hide it well. Very few allow their marks to show.
I’ve encountered many physicians who will immediately Baker Act those who cut. Many physicians and counselors err on the side of caution, and when a significant cut is seen, that person is whisked off to an inpatient setting. Cutting appears to be on the rise.
What to do if someone you know is cutting:
- Remain calm. Cutting is not usually a suicide attempt, yet ought to be taken seriously.
- Offer to talk with the person about the cutting or offer to help get her to a professional who can assist
- Refrain from becoming angry or judgemental as the cutter is usually guilt ridden about what they are doing.
- Offer love, support, and encouragement
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