Cutting isn’t an uncommon as one might think. Many popular television shows and books for teenagers have characters who have struggled with cutting and emotional distress.

Cutting is the act of inflicting harm on oneself intentionally. Other types of self-injury include scratching, burning, pulling skin or hair, self-bruising, and breaking bones.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you work with teenagers or have children of your own:

Who? Cutting can be used as an outlet for anyone, but it is a definite struggle seen in girls between the ages of 10-16. However, different stages in a person’s life can trigger self-harm (starting middle school, high school, and/or college). It can even happen in adults who are going through stressful situations.

What are the signs? Signs to look for are scars, fresh cuts or scratches, finding sharp objects in their possession, wearing long sleeves or pants (even in hot weather), spending a lot of time alone, and/or statements of hopelessness.

Where? While cutting may occur on any part of the body, it is most common on the hands, wrists, stomach, and thighs because those areas can be easily hid by clothing.

Why? Cutting is used as a way to cope with emotional distress. Some people cut because they feel that it’s the only thing they can control. Others do it to relieve stress or when they feel overwhelmed with sadness or anxiety. Over time, the cutting typically escalates, occurring more often and with more and more cuts each time.

Where can I get help? If you are a cutter and need help to stop, confide in someone you trust. They can help you find someone better equipped to talk you through your self-harm. The next step, whether you are the cutter or it’s someone you know, is to find a therapist. A therapist will help you identify your triggers, talk through your pain, and figure out safer coping techniques.

There are other ways to cope with emotional distress. Although cutting can make you feel relieved or purged of grief at first, the release typically doesn’t last long. A therapist can help you find a way to cope that will last.

To set up an appointment with Reka, you can be in touch by phone at 402-881-8125, by email at, or via Twitter or Facebook. We would love to answer any questions you may have.

photo credit: DailyM: ferrie=differentieel & Jöran Maaswinkel via photopin cc