Self Mutilating to Release Emotional Stress

Psychologists encourage parents to help teens find healthy ways to deal with frustration. Many teens feel like there's something wrong with them and don't understand why they're depressed. Doctors say parents should tell teens feelings like that are natural and consider counseling to help them.

Some doctors call it the new anorexia nervosa -- a dangerous addiction that's catching on with large groups of local teens. It's called, Cutting. Teens taking blades to their bodies trying desperately to take their minds off emotional stress. Kids First reporter Kendall Tenney talked with one teen who almost lost her life because she was trying to cut away the pain.

Warning: graphic/disturbing description follows

"I was with that razor in the bathroom cutting and slicing away."

"I had these feelings and depression and I didn't know how to deal with it."

"I needed a release and that's what it was."

A release that almost took Marie's life last September when she cut too deeply and almost bled to death. "When you're cutting and you go into that trance you don't feel the pain you don't realize how deep you're going."

"How often were you doing this?"

"Once every other month I'd hit bottom for myself and I'd break out the razor."

"It helps take their mind away from the fact that they're depressed."

Doctor Mark Chambers has treated several local teen cutters. "It's almost always the result of depression and very often these kids don't know how to deal with it."

It's something they discover on their own. It might start with just the scratching of the skin and then they realize hey that feels better than what I'm feeling and then it tends to build and magnify from there.

"There can be cases where the cutting is done multiple times, every day."

"How were you able to hide this from people?"

"I did it in places where they couldn't see it like my upper arms."

That lasted 3 years, until Marie's boyfriend told her mother what was going on.

"I was just devastated because I couldn't understand why she would do something like that."

"You feel remorse, you feel guilt, you feel like a freak, you're not supposed to be doing this."

Twice a week, the 23 year old goes to support groups at her church and mental health facilities to control those urges. "I've had setbacks. I'm still going through it, I still cut."

"The thoughts go through my head. This isn't working out... go and cut yourself. You can't deal, go and cut yourself. I don't want to go through life with all these scars on my body."

Marie and her mom are trying to start a local support group for cutters. "Kids First" logged on to teen cutting websites. We found several teens in Nevada admitting to self-mutilation -- all looking for help to stop their addiction.

Psychologists encourage parents to help teens find healthy ways to deal with frustration. Many teens feel like there's something wrong with them and don't understand why they're depressed. Doctors say parents should tell teens feelings like that are natural and consider counseling to help them.

back to: Abuse Community Homepage ~ Depression and Self Injury ToC

Last Updated: 14 January 2014

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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