Teens who Self-Injure

If you have any contact with teens, you will eventually meet or hear about someone who has engaged in “cutting.”  Teens who harm their bodies are not suicidal, but are looking for a way to release painful emotions, according to an article on WebMD.  The article helps parents recognize warning signs, and gives advice on how to help teens who self-injure, quoting experts from SAFE Alternatives (based at Linden Oaks Hospital, in Naperville, IL).

I learned a few interesting things from the article.  Cutting is an accepted part of the “Goth” culture (but is not only done in that group), and is more common in girls than boys.  Wendy Lader, PhD, also states that “Very often, kids who self-harm have an eating disorder.  They may have a history of sexual, physical, or verbal abuse….Many are sensitive, perfectionists, overachievers. The self-injury begins as a defense against what’s going on in their family, in their lives. They have failed in one area of their lives, so this is a way to get control.”  This could hit any family, however, says Lader, who points out that “many kids who self-injure are simply ‘regular kids’ going through the adolescent struggle for self-identity”  Lader adds, “They’re experimenting.”