Cutting, a form of self-injury, is a disturbing trend among teens that often takes parents by surprise. Like many behavioral issues, it is often a sign of a deeper problem and, as such, should be taken seriously. What causes a teen to be a cutter and how do we deal with it as a parent?
Cutting has definitely moved to the forefront of parental issues in recent years, especially given the rash of alleged celebrity cutters. Dr. Wendy Lader, President and Clinical Director of S.A.F.E. Alternatives sheds some light on this taboo issue.
Trying to cope
Few would argue the fact that the teenage years are trying. Between raging hormones, academic pressures and the challenge of finding a place in the world, some kids become overwhelmed. “Essentially, cutting, like all forms of self-injury is a coping strategy to deal with intense emotions,” says Dr. Lader. “When someone is experiencing an intense emotional state such as anger or sadness, self-injury serves as an immediate way to calm; much like using a drug.”
As a parent, how to know if your teen is a cutter? Dr. Lader suggests you look for the following sings:
- Unexplained cuts or bruising
- Wearing long sleeves or pants in warm weather
- Bloody tissues in bathroom or bedroom
- Finding sharp implements in their room or backpack
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