As a school counselor, I am very concerned about the growing trend I am seeing in cutting, self-injury and self-mutalation. The largest number of readers posting on ScottCounseling come here as cutters, parents of cutters and former self-mutilators seeking to help current cutters.
The act of cutting involves an individual intentionally making cuts, scratches or marks on various parts of the body to cause self-inflicted pain. The primary purpose of cutting is not to end ones life, but to reduce or replace emotional pain with physical pain.
Statistically, cutting occurs most often in female teens and young female adults. One such study, done by the British Medical Journal, estimated that 13% of teen between the ages of 15-16 were participating in some form of cutting or self-injury behavior. In the United States, it is estimated that one in every 200 females between the ages of 13 and 19 have tried cutting or are currently cutting. Typically cutters come from homes where physical abuse, alcoholism or sexual abuse has occured. However, cutters also come from homes where the parents and family system is very functional and working.
Medical Health America and Discovery Health report that during the past decade, 1%, or over 2 million people in the U.S. have been involved in cutting or self-injury behavior. Parents, friends and other concerned individuals should encourage the “cutter” or “self-injuring” individual to seek medical (family doctor) help.
If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24 hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.