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Cutting: The Self-Injury Puzzle

For many, it feels good before it feels very, very bad

cutting, self harm injury, self-harm, mental health, psychology, college student depression anxiety

One study found that 17 percent of college students self-injure, most commonly by cutting.

My head racing, can’t stop
My heart so broken and hurt
It stings, the first cut
It hurts so good.
I watch as the blade rips my pale skin.

—Entry from a self-injury blog

As a troubled BU sophomore, Sarah* hurt herself in order to feel better. She would occasionally resort to slicing her arms with razor blades, the escalation of a compulsion to self-injure that began in middle school, when she would furtively scratch herself with scissors. Alone in her dorm room, she’d experience a sense of release, of stress and pain lifting as she patted the pooling blood with gauze. But the effect was fleeting, and Sarah says any relief soon morphed into a deep sense of regret and shame over an act so private she kept it from even her closest friends.

As strange as the practice may seem to those who have never done it, cutting is fairly common, and Sarah, an articulate, high-achieving science major, is typical only in the sense that anyone can be a cutter. A groundbreaking 2006 study conducted by researchers at Princeton and Cornell found that 17 percent of college students self-injure—cut, carve, burn, or otherwise hurt themselves. More recent data indicate that 12 percent to 23 percent of adolescents have self-injured, and the behavior, which declines sharply with age, is more common among women—60 percent of those who self-injure are female. According to Mathilde Ross, a psychiatrist with Behavioral Medicine at BU Student Health Services, most cutters are not suicidal, and most outgrow the practice in their 20s.

Although self-injury has existed throughout history, the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury describes the practice specifically as the deliberate, self-inflicted destruction of body tissue without suicidal intent for purposes that aren’t widely socially acceptable or ornamental. Tattoos and piercings, no matter how extreme, don’t fall into the category of self-injury.

Why do young people cut themselves?

“It’s hard to feel anything when you’re depressed,” says Sarah, who habitually wore long sleeves to hide her scars. Cutting, she found, was “the only thing that would get an emotion.” At least before the shame and regret set in, self-injury helps people feel in control and makes them feel alive, or some alternative to feeling numb, Ross explains. It can release pain and tension and distract people from larger, overwhelming emotions. It’s a way of feeling something—anything, she says. Primarily, it appears to be a form of release.

The scars are “like proof of hurting,” says Sarah, who sought help for her cutting at Behavioral Medicine. “They’re are kind of like a personal tattoo you only want you to see.”

Boston University BU, Student Health Services, mental health, psychology, cutting, self harm injury, college student depression anxiety

Source: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm#signs

Numbers for how many people engage in cutting are hard to come by, but psychologists agree it is on the rise, and doctors like Ross admit to being somewhat at a loss when it comes to an apparent surge in self-injury among young people. She cites estimates by Barent Walsh, executive director of the Bridge of Central Massachusetts, a human service agency serving those with mental health, developmental, and family problems and acquired brain injury, that the incidence of self-injury climbed from 400 per 100,000 in the early 1980s to 1,000 per 100,000 in the late 1990s. One crisis hotline for young people reported a threefold increase in self-injury-related calls, from 696 in 2007 to 2,052 in 2011.

Another concern is that cutting has become, “for lack of a better word, a fad,” says Ross. Even before the internet, many young people discovered cutting after seeing evidence of it in their peers. But today the web is awash in pro-self-injury websites and social media glorifying the practice. One blog even has this disclaimer: “If you are quitting self-harm, then it isn’t really the place for you.” Several celebrities have spoken out about their struggles with self-injury, including singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, a rape victim who spoke frankly about her self-harm to Rolling Stone, and comedian and actor Russell Brand, who has written about making himself bleed. Alleged cutting also feeds the web gossip mill. After photos surfaced on the web supposedly showing singer Miley Cyrus with scarred wrists, a viral frenzy ensued and the 20-year-old became synonymous with cutting. (She denies it.)

The science of self-injury is young. “When I was in training there were people who believed cutting was suicidal behavior, “ says Ross, noting that an old clinical term for self-injury was “para-suicidal behavior.” But while some cutters may be deeply depressed and at higher risk of suicide, the practice itself—now referred to as NSSI (nonsuicidal self-injury)—is not intended to cause life-threatening harm, not viewed as a slippery slope to mortal injury, and often abates without any intervention.

Still, say mental health experts, cutting takes a concerning toll, not least because the shame associated with it can become so isolating. The urge to cut “would come on in a wave, usually at night,” says Sarah, who recalls feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

Because the act is so private, each cutter develops and refines his or her own routine. “You’ll see sterilization with alcohol swabs, you’ll see razors, X-Acto knives, small kitchen knives, nail files, broken glass, an uncurled paper clip,” says Ross. “Some people have to make the cut bleed, others just need a physical sensation.”

Boston University BU, Student Health Services, mental health, psychology, cutting, self harm injury, college student depression anxiety

Cutting is disfiguring, carries risk of infection or more serious injury, and is never normal, according to a psychiatrist at BU Student Health Services. Photo by flickr contributor Nina J. G.

One reason cutting causes less concern than other self-destructive behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use, is that it can be oddly effective. The response to cutting seems to be connected in some way to the body’s opioid system, the part of the nervous system that controls, pain, reward, and addiction, says Ross, noting that when it first caught the notice of clinicians in the 1980s the behavior was common among prison inmates and patients in psychiatric institutions. “In terms of the opiates, self-injury can be similar to a drug or cigarette habit,” she says. And like those addictions, it can be difficult to break. “What people who cut describe is that if they’re feeling anger or depression or emptiness, cutting will relieve it, but someone who has been cutting once a month could start cutting every day or multiple times a day.”

Although young people heal well, says Ross, “our main concerns about cutting are that it’s disfiguring—regular cutters develop scars—and cutters can have more serious incidents, if only by accident.” Cutting, she emphasizes, is never normal. “We’d like to see young people develop healthy ways to deal with stress. We think it’s important for all cutters to be evaluated.”

Ross urges students to tell someone. “To students who are self-injuring, I make the point that you’re not alone. That’s an important message,” she says, “because you’re dealing with emotional distress, and shame on top of that distress.”

Alicia* told someone. A gay BU freshman from a conservative family who refused to accept her sexual orientation, she began cutting as a high school freshman. “I would do it whenever I got upset or angry or suffering from stress about my sexuality,” says Alicia, who sought help at Behavioral Medicine at the insistence of her girlfriend and has been seeing a counselor there. “Self-harm was a way for me to forget about everything. I had no way to deal with emotional pain.” Like many self-injurers, Alicia learned about cutting through the media. “I’d watch TV shows and the characters would do self-harm, and I thought maybe somehow this would distract me,” she says. “At first I was very afraid. But as I got more used to the pain I started using different tools, sharper ones like X-Acto knives, that would cut deeper without any effort. I kept them in my drawer under stacks of paper.” Like Sarah, Alicia’s initial relief led to regret. “I hate feeling this crazy all the time,” says Alicia. “It’s a struggle.”

Ross says that some replacement behaviors have been found to be effective to stop cutting. “We’ll have someone wear a rubber band and snap it, and for some people that will help.” Others find that applying ice can substitute for the cutting sensation, and some people get relief by drawing a red line on their skin. These behaviors “can take the edge off,” she says.

After receiving counseling and being prescribed antidepressant medication, Sarah, now a junior, says she hasn’t cut in a year, but still struggles with the urge even as the scars on her arms fade. With the help of her therapist, she came up with a creative, poignant solution to stave off the urge to cut. Just before a much-anticipated tropical vacation with her family, Sarah says, her counselor urged her to horde the hotel’s complimentary body lotion and bring the vials home with her. “When I want to cut, I rub the lotion on my arms,” she says, “and the smell brings me back to that happy, safe place. I put it on all the time.” The impulse to cut still comes about once a month, but it’s fading with time. Sarah says she hopes she now has the tools “so I won’t hurt myself again.”

Those interested in seeking free, confidential mental health counseling can contact Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine at 617-353-3569.

*Names have been changed for this article.

44 Comments
Susan Seligson, Senior Writer for BU Today and Bostonia
Susan Seligson

Susan Seligson can be reached at sueselig@bu.edu.

44 Comments on Cutting: The Self-Injury Puzzle

  • Candace on 04.03.2013 at 6:16 am

    Nice job Susan. This is a really important, albeit disturbing article. As a parent, it is crushing to see how these young people are hurting and their way of coping. I wish, as a society, we were better able to prepare young people for life’s challenges and sorrows so cutting and other harmful practices didn’t have to happen.

  • Trigger Warning on 04.03.2013 at 8:20 am

    This should be posted with a trigger warning. I know you meant no harm, but the images and words used in this article could upset or entice self-harmers.

    • Christine on 04.03.2013 at 10:08 am

      I completely agree.

    • Meghan on 04.03.2013 at 10:22 am

      The article is entitled Cutting: The Self-Injury Puzzle. That should be enough of a warning. If someone’s going to be triggered by descriptions of self-injury, why would they read an article about it?

      • Ashley on 04.03.2013 at 10:33 am

        As an active self injurer, I agree. But, even though I wasn’t bothered by the images myself, I think it might be a good idea to put up a warning about graphic images because they’re a bit unexpected and might bother people in general. If I knew nothing about self injury, I would be expecting images of sad teenage girls with black hair and eyeliner tears— not actual wounds.

        I totally prefer this with no warnings, but I don’t want people to avoid this article because of the imagery.

        • Alexandra on 12.16.2013 at 12:26 pm

          I agree 100%

      • Rowan on 04.03.2013 at 10:44 am

        That’s fair to say, but even the picture included in the BU Today email could be triggering. You don’t even have to click the article to see it.

      • John Deer on 04.03.2013 at 11:02 am

        Some of us have poor impulse control

      • sb on 04.03.2013 at 11:10 am

        definitely needs a trigger warning — the title doesn’t account for the incredibly graphic images the article features.

      • Peter on 04.03.2013 at 6:55 pm

        I’m surprised we’re calling these images ‘graphic’ – university audience/adults are the readership.

    • AJ on 04.03.2013 at 11:19 am

      I agree. Yes, the title is pretty obvious in what the article is about, but it never hurts to have a short line at the top warning that the contents (including images) may be triggering or disturbing to some.

      I knew what the article was going to be about, and nothing caught me off guard, but I became nauseated as I read through the article and related the words and images to my own experiences. I never expected that reading it would affect me enough to make me physically unwell – and there’s no one to blame for my own reaction but myself. I just wanted to point out that even with a straightforward title, some may not realize how they’ll be affected. And it’s better have a warning label that isn’t needed than to not have a warning label that is needed.

    • Jenna on 04.03.2013 at 6:37 pm

      Society has enough regulations on publications. This is something people live through. Why should a warning be provided if you want to know what they live with?

      • Rowan on 04.04.2013 at 8:27 am

        A trigger warning is primarily for people who HAVE lived through this. It’s to let them know that some content could appear that might trigger them emotionally. If someone is triggered it could potentially lead them to engage in coping mechanisms such as self-harm, so it’s basically an alert that alerts readers to prepare themselves emotionally if this is a sensitive topic for them.

        • Brian on 09.02.2016 at 11:10 am

          The word trigger might trigger those who have had traumatic experiences with abusers or firearms.

          The word warning might trigger those who have had bad experiences with police pulling them over and giving them warnings.

  • someone_you_probably_know on 04.03.2013 at 10:16 am

    I agree. Folks who SI are sometimes emotionally brittle. And the sight or graphic discussionof SI can tip them over the edge. Guilt over what they/we do is a burden that weighs down every moment of life.

    The trendy aspect of SI is really freightening. But fortunately, i think those are the folks whom we need be least concerned about. I’ve heard any number of folks say how much it hurt, and then stop. And thank goodness for that.

    The folks who need the help are often the ones never seen. Slipping through life under the radar. Even knowing that you’re not the only person struggling with SI does not relieve the isolation. By its nature SI isolates, and people who engage will go to extreme lengths to remain unknown. Which means that too many carry the burden into adulthood. Even if they have been safe for many years. The skin is a boarder. And once you have crossed it, you will always know you can return there.

    March 1st was National SI awareness day. The symbol was an orange ribbon. I wore mine, and was both cheered and saddened to see another.

  • Ashley on 04.03.2013 at 10:26 am

    I’m very happy that this article was published, and even happier that it was made the headline on the email BU Today sent out. This article stayed objective and gave a bit of history, which was really, really nice. Having this addressed acknowledged is important.

    The only thing that bothers me about this article is that both people interviewed were at similar stages in terms of how they thought about their own self harm. It would have been nice to hear from somebody who is actively self harming. That’s a very minor thing though, and I imagine it’s difficult to find people to interview for this.

    Thank you for writing and publishing this article, seeing it made my day.

  • anonymous on 04.03.2013 at 11:18 am

    add a trigger warning next time you write an article/send out a email like this.

    • Jane on 01.25.2016 at 11:22 am

      Want to interview someone I’m willing to get an interview about it but only as Jane doe I do not want my face revealed or any of my identity used if you respond to my comment and agree then I’ll discuss how we can get in touch

  • ElenorWatson on 04.03.2013 at 11:36 am

    I have worked with cutters in England and sadly this problem is not being addressed here in the UK, our Prime Minister has stated hospitalization records show that self harm has tripled in the last 10 years, the NHS has not addressed this growing problem http://stopcuttingyourself.blogspot.com/2013/04/depressed-cutting-yourself-take-control.html

  • BD on 04.03.2013 at 12:30 pm

    I am glad that this article was published, however I wish it had included details about other forms of self-injury. I am a sexual abuse survivor, and I sometimes self-injure by picking skin. I can say that part of it is to feel something other than numbness and sometimes leads to minimal bleeding. The abuse ended fifteen years ago however the effects of the abuse and subsequent depression never goes away. Not one day goes by without a trigger that forces me to revisit the abuse whether it be a body memory, flashback, or even something on t.v.. Picking for me is very rare, but on my worse days I notice that it almost becomes an unconscious thing that happens, often while sitting on the couch in front of the t.v.. I hope that more research will be done to contribute to this conversation about self-injury so that those who suffer from this issue in forms other than cutting can find help and the resources to move forward.

    • someone_you_probably_know on 04.03.2013 at 1:46 pm

      If I remember my reading correctly, SI is strongly linked with sexual abuse and rape. I find it interesting that the connection to the pleasure/pain center in the brai n was given stronger mention that that of SA. In one study I ran across in a quick google search, it stated: “Perhaps more importantly, all three studies directly support the growing literature on the overrepresentation
      of sexual abuse among those involved in SMB.”1 SMB: Self Mutilation Behavior.

      1. SELF-MUTILATION IN CLINICAL AND GENERAL POPULATION SAMPLES: Prevalence, Correlates, and Functions

      John Briere Ph.D.1,2,*,
      Eliana Gil Ph.D.1,2

      Article first published online: 24 MAR 2010

      DOI: 10.1037/h0080369

  • someone_you_probably_know on 04.03.2013 at 1:51 pm

    Something else that has always troubled me is the dramatic reception an SI-er receives at the hospital. In my expirience, healthcare workers are intolerant and often condescending and down right hostile toward those who engage in SI. So much so that personally, I have foregone treatment in order to avoid it. Even under other circumstances, sight of my scars has turned a normal visit into a cold and curt meeting.

    • danielle on 08.03.2015 at 12:50 am

      That is absolutely terrible and heartbreaking to hear. I am so sorry you were treated like that.

  • Stepfather on 04.03.2013 at 4:15 pm

    My step daughter ‘learned’ cutting in a clinical setting from other teens. As with many other cutters she was in the beginning stages of dealing/healing from sexual abuse (she is in a safe situation now.)

    She is getting what we believe to be excellent one-on-one treatment from both a counselor and a psychiatrist – but it was hard to get her into quality treatment.

    As well as the psychiatrist prescribed meds, unapproved use of marijuana (with the knowledge of her counselor and psychiatrist) seems to be helping her deal with the urge to cut.

    In general, I think young people would be healthier if adults backed off on the pressure and judgement, PROTECTED THEM FROM PREDATORY ADULTS, and helped them with coping skills.

    • max jasso on 10.16.2013 at 4:42 pm

      self-harm is created by a mental issues such as major depression; bipolar disorder, and anxiety. your daughter needs professional help. self-harm is NOT a game it is a serious philological addiction that may need rehabilitation.

      • Stefanie Milovic on 12.17.2015 at 12:41 am

        I agree with your last statement. However, you cannot say that self-harm is created by mental issues. Sometimes it is a precursor; sometimes it is an after effect (and symptom); and sometimes you have an individual who experiences one and not the other. We often link self-harm and mental illness together, but they are not one and the same or definitive causation demonstrating it. Rehab and professional help may be necessary in either case.

  • someone_you_probably_know on 04.04.2013 at 3:18 pm

    So, this has been on my mind since yesterday. I’d like to preface my comment with the fact that I truely appriciate the issue of SI being raised. At the very least, discussing it may help some feel less alone. At the most, it might encourage some to seek help.

    That said, I question the pictures used in the article. I am being very careful in my word choice here because many SI-ers would associate those decriptions of the scars with themselves as people. Meaning to or not, such descriptives often increase the feelings of isolation.

    The images are graphic. It is a “graphic” topic. I understand this. On the one hand, I understand the desire to show those who have never been exposed to SI the affects and results of SI. An image is worth a thousand words.

    On the otherhand, showing these images knowingly to a population – granted not the entire readership – who may be prone to harming themselves as a result of seeing such images leads to two aweful conclusions. First, that the author, while deserving praise for raising the subject, does not truly understand the subject she wrote about. Or second, that she did understand the fragility of a portion of those reading her article and felt that overall the risks of some one having a “poor reaction’ to the images was worth the impact they would have on her larger readership.

    Let me say right here, I am not saying the author is responsible in any way for any of the reactions her readers. We are individuals and each of us is responsible for ourselves and our own actions – period.

    Perhaps there is another conclusion here too. I don’t know. At the least, the use of such graphic images in this article is insensitive.

  • Heather Emme on 05.29.2013 at 12:27 pm

    I would argue that in a scholarly article it is prudent to provide a trigger warning, but one is never obligated to. I have art in my comic that includes cutting (it’s autobiographical) and I haven’t included a trigger warning on the page. I went back and forth on it because I understand the need it fills, but at the same time, I’m telling a story and that’s the story it is, scary as that may be, uncomfortable as that may be, unpopular as that may be. I may add one. But as an artist, do I have to? If I don’t, does that make me the bad guy? I don’t know. I don’t want my whole story to be covered in them, but much of it would be. Trigger warnings sort of end up feeling like those warnings on cigarette packages or rides. the person who walked up to the ride had a pretty good idea what it was about. Seeing the warning doesn’t make them turn around and walk away. I wonder how many people have not read something because of a trigger warning…

    Yep. Quite the issue.

  • Mandy on 07.29.2013 at 2:10 am

    I dont think anybody is really opening a discussion about cutting and the negative effects of it like that its addictive properties are consideres similar to heroin or cocaine we talk about seriouS drugs in schools but not the dangers of self injury and most cutters start in their early teens people need to open up about it if i knew that down the road id be plagued by this addiction i wouldve stopped myself but nobody told me it can be dangerous

  • someone_you_probably_know on 09.25.2013 at 2:35 pm

    Having an open discussion about SI is rather tough in any circumstances. But I hear you with regards to the addictive behavior.

  • Jessica on 10.02.2013 at 11:49 am

    I used to self harm but i stopped because i realized i was only hurting myself i didn’t really leave any scars but there was some marks that were left afterwards but nothing major i never wanted anyone to find out but when i did use sharp objects i made sure that it was really deep because i didn’t want anyone to find out about my self harm. At that time i felt so alone &’ i didn’t really have anyone to talk to about this that i could trust so i thought maybe self harming would help but i soon found out that i was only hurting myself, i finally stopped when i found someone who i could open up to that knew what i was really going through &’ would actually listen &’ wouldn’t judge me for what i was doing, they didn’t like that i was doing that but they helped me to stop &’ realize that there is more important things in life than just cutting yourself or self harming. I’m so glad that i found that person that would help me through it &’ i hope for everyone that self harms that they find someone to help them through it or finds hope &’ the strength to get through it. STAY STRONG.!!!! <3

  • max jasso on 10.16.2013 at 4:39 pm

    you self-harm and mess up your own body not because you feel like doing it or because you want to, you do it because depression has blinded you and has taken the best out of you…..you get to the point where your scars are the only thing you like about yourself.

  • someone_you_probably_know on 10.23.2013 at 8:57 am

    I imagine that each person has their own reasons. The best explanation I ever heard was that si is taking an emotional feeling and turning it into a physical feeling in order to more easily deal with it. That is to say, emotions such as guilt, anger, shame and such are complex and hard to manage. Pain, on the other hand, is easy to manage. A person uses si to cope with feelings and emotions that they cannot cope with.

    Its an inadequate explanation, but it makes more sense to me than anything else I’ve heard.

  • Steven Rose on 02.27.2014 at 9:48 am

    My question is how do you go about telling your parents you self harm. Mine already know because I’ve been hospitalized, but how do you tell them you started again? Especially after doing so good for such a long period of time…

  • someone_you_probably_know on 03.13.2014 at 9:33 am

    No fun. As awful as it will be to tell them you need to know that a parent would much rather find out by hearing the news from you than seeing the results on you. SI is especially confusing for a parent. (Most) Parents will inately want to protect their child from harm. But how can he or she protect their child from themselves? So that parent feels out of control. Impotent and useless.

    How do you tell them? Just tell them. Call ‘em. I wouldn’t email or text. The more you display that you know its a problem and that you want to solve it, the better off you’ll be.

  • Stella on 04.18.2014 at 6:33 am

    was that graphic image really necessary? next time think before you post something like that.

  • Joanna on 08.14.2014 at 8:11 pm

    I think a big problem with cutting is that there are a very limited number of incentives to quit, I count two.

    1. Danger.
    Cutting does pose a threat to our health, as it can be quite easy to cut too deep. However, this doesn’t do much as an incentive because most people think ‘oh, I can control myself. Who would be stupid enough to cut so deep they could bleed to death?’ (and not to be self defeating, but it is REALLY difficult to cut deep enough to bleed out)

    2. Scars
    Scars can be socially isolating, however, it isn’t actually that hard to minimize visibility of scars. As an ex-cutter I know how easy it can be to hide scars if you cut in the right places. Cuts on the wrists can be hidden by bracelets or armbands, cuts on the thighs can be hidden with capris, etc.

    Quite honestly I think we need more research on reasons to quit. Calling it ‘immoral’ or ‘outrageous’ is not enough.

    • Stefanie Milovic on 12.17.2015 at 12:47 am

      I honestly agree with you. The only other thing that I can add to this list is “Addiction.” Self-harm can be both physically and psychologically addicting. Since self-harm is often used as a coping mechanism, there lies the difficulty of when the relief received from self-harming is no longer sufficient…and so, the person cuts deeper. If this continues, the self-harm can become progressively worse, dangerous, and isolating. Addiction stops you from getting off the habit immediately (not unlike drugs and alcohol). The truly addictive behavior also gives a reason as to why quitting is best.

  • Autumn on 11.17.2014 at 6:12 pm

    As a self-mutilator, I like this article and I think these are some very helpful, informative information that can help people like me.

  • Kaden on 11.19.2014 at 10:43 am

    NSSI is something I would have to disagree with. Yes, there are cases of SI not pertaining to suicide, however I believe that the majority of cutters are looking for someone to notice the pain they are in, and will go to any extent to receive that longing. I am a 2 time suicide attempt survivor, and still engage in cutting, but am not posing any reasons to end my life as of now. There is no reason for me to stop, yet I have learned that suicide is not a way out. So, rather, I think that NSSI patients become that way, rather than begin with that intent. Good article overall though. I would still address more pressing issues, however, but that’s just me.

  • Marie on 03.04.2015 at 4:45 pm

    I found this article online while researching a topic paper on self harm. I understand both sides of the trigger warning debate. Some people can handle it and some people cannot, and yet others may be unsure of how it will effect them. When in doubt, put a trigger warning. I enjoyed this article because it did speak more about college students as opposed to simply adolescents. I’m twenty five years old and have been dealing with self harm for over ten years. It is isolating to be a cutter in general, but to also be out of your teenage and early twenties, makes it a little more difficult. In the area that I live, self harm is still considered a bit of a joke because so many teens do it for attention or just to fit in. More awareness needs to be brought out about this issue. Even today, it is still taboo to talk about, or people just think it’s some silly cry for attention. Many people do not know or understand the addictive properties that go into cutting. The brain releases a chemical that makes it feel good, which is very similar to drug addiction. It is important to find help that is of good quality, and a person should not be judged simply because they engage in this behavior. I myself have anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, depression, an eating disorder, and am a survivor of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, with some of those problems, people are quick to judge. For example, I went to the emergency room and the nurse automatically assumed that I had been sexually abused, yes I was, but one cannot make that assumption about everyone. There are many different reasons and causes for self harm, but regardless one needs to get help. I went to a special self harm treatment center that was DBT based called Timberline Knolls and it helped me tremendously. If anyone here is struggling or wants to tell somebody, just remember, it may be the hardest step, but it is the best one.

  • robin on 06.28.2015 at 7:54 pm

    Hello, I have a friend that has a 26 year old daughter who is a cutter. It appears to be getting worse and the family is in need of finding help for her. Maybe a residential facility if necessary. Can someone please direct me on where to start looking or refer places. They live in NJ but will take her where ever they feel is the best place for her to get help..thank you

    • Mary on 07.30.2015 at 9:09 am

      Check out S.A.F.E. Alternatives, if they’re willing to go for treatment out of state. It’s probably one of the best and most knowledgable ( in addition to being compassionate) places for SI treatment.

  • Jane on 01.25.2016 at 11:14 am

    I started cutting when I was in 7th grade I was in foster care and I went in to foster care when I was 8 years old I’ve been through a lot then and even when I got out of foster care I managed to quit cutting at the age of 18 up in till know I’m 27 and have a lot on my plate and no one to turn to and I do it to cope and because I’m dealing with very deep hurt I don’t want to be put on anymore crazy meds I was forced to take those in foster care and haven’t taken them since I was 18 I was diagnosed bipolar and suicidal

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