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Why Do Teens Cut or Self-Injure?

Posted by in Uncategorized | 9 comments

cutting-bladeThe act of “cutting” or making scratches on arms, legs or other body parts is not a halfhearted attempt at suicide.  In fact, it’s an effort by the self-injury individual to feel alive.  Individuals who cut or self-injure often perform this act as a way to handle life, not to die, or end the life.  Placing Cuts on the body is not the only way to self-injure.  Some individuals burn themselves or mutilate parts of the body with instruments or fingers.

The following are common reasons why individuals cut or self-injure:

  • Anger or stress relief
  • Escaping a bad or unwanted feeling
  • Expressing emotional pain
  • Influencing peers or family
  • Preventing suicide
  • Coping with feelings

Common reasons self-injury individuals give for NOT stopping this behavior:

“I can do whatever I want with my body.”
“I am now in control.”
“The scars remind me of my control to control my pain.”
“My cutting does not hurt anyone but me.”
“If I don’t self-injure, I may do something worse.”

Brain Chemistry Behind Cutting and Self-Injury

serotoninBrain chemistry may play a role in determining who self-injures and who doesn’t. In the early 1990’s, Favazza & Simeon found that people who self-injure tend to be more angry, impulsive, anxious, and aggressive. Their studies provided evidence that some of these characteristics may be linked to deficits in the brain’s serotonin system.  In 1994, Zweig-Frank also suggest that degree of self-injury is related to a serotonin dysfunction and in 2000, Steiger , in a study of bulimics, found that serotonin function in bulimic women was significantly lower in bulimics who also engaged in self-harm.  Serotonin acts both as a chemical messenger that transmits nerve signals between nerve cells and that causes blood vessels to narrow.  Changes in the serotonin levels in the brain can alter an individual’s mood.

Discussion Topics:



  • GM says:

    could a teen be cutting to try and get drugs?

  • Scott says:

    Most teens cut to exchange emotional pain for physical pain. Like drugs, the effects of cutting does not last until you do it again. The truth: running, exercising, dancing and doing anything aerobic will stimulate or signal the body chemicals to create the same effects as cutting.

    The act of cutting, like taking drugs can be habit forming and addictive. That’s why it is important not to begin cutting (or using drugs). If you are cutting, get help.

    • brian says:

      how do you know that everyone who cuts can just get up and run or do what ever it is that you said there are those who can’t and so what if it is an addiction do you care for every individual who cuts answer me!!!

      • Lizzie says:

        No, no one cares about every individual who cuts. It’s just human nature to not care. Learn to care for yourself first, that’s the rule. And he said any aerobic exercise. If you’re in a wheel chair, then I sympathize with you and realize you can’t run, walk, jump, or dance. There are still other ways, though. It may not be the exact same stimulus, but drawing, writing prose or poetry, talking to someone, or screaming into a pillow can help also. If not, get off the chair. Sitting on a swing even helps a little. He knows these things because it is proven fact. Look it up. I don’t mean to sound heartless to you for your situation–whatever it may be–and I don’t mean to be cold to you. Its obvious you’re in a lot of pain, and need some help. Not particularly psychiatric, seeing as how that didn’t help me. Find your own way to help yourself…other than cutting, of course. Good luck in bettering yourself. =)

  • tinkerbell says:

    i start to cut when i feel like no one want me around

    • laura says:

      i cut when im alone, when no ones around. i found an online game that “keeps me company” its real players. if ur feeling lonely maybe u shud try something like that. it can take u out of this little world of stress for a while.

  • Alisha says:

    hey, my name is alisha and im a 14 year old teen and i cut. i have family problems and my emotions need to be released. is there anyway to not cut and releave emotions in a differant way? because i am cutting more now…

  • Raven says:

    It’s not merely teens who injure themselves for purpose. It’s good that people spread information thought. When I still was in school no one knew what self injury was and people still and always have been ignorant of self injury. They easily blame it on something what they don’t understand. For examble when I was in school “she cuts because she is a Satan worshipper” and these days I have heard that so common “emos cut themselves”. Very few really want to know the deeper reason.
    Some don’t stop cutting because it’s the only way of showing this is how much I’m hurt. The cutter may hide the wounds from people but the cutter can see and actually feel the pain. Like I’m very athlethic but I still have urges because to me cutting is the best way.
    That’s what addiction is all about. I know about addictions my mom and many of my friends had alcohol addiction and many of my friends have cut themselves. Even my mom has.
    To get rid of addiction (yes, sounds so terrifying to get rid of something you love so much) you need professional help and lot of caring enduring health people around you.
    To someone who has cut themselves usually have lost trust in human beings so it’s HARD trying to confince that you care about the person.
    Well…I’m off now. Take care everyone.

    • Anjana says:

      I am 15 years old and i cut. I do it when i feel no one wants or when someone whom i love the most ignores or shout at me. I dont have any other way to control my feelings

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