Why do kids cut themselves?
There are as many reasons for cutting as there are kids who do it. More girls engage in cutting than boys. Anger, frustration, depression, shame...all of these emotions can trigger self-injury. Other triggers include:
Loss of someone close to them
Feeling rejected or helpless
Needing to feel something other than numbness
Alcohol or drug problems
A history of child abuse or abandonment
Bottled up emotions
A need to take risks or to get attention
Mental retardation or autism
Mental illnesses, such as personality disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.
Types of self-injury
There are various forms of self-injury, including:
Cutting with a razor blade, knife or other sharp object
Burning with cigarettes, matches or candles
Picking and pulling skin and hair
Breaking bones or bruising
Plucking out hair
Signs for parents
Look for the following signs in your child:
Cuts or scars on the arms or legs
Inadequate explanation of the injuries
Hiding scars by wearing long sleeves and pants, even in hot weather.
How to help your child
If you suspect a cutting habit in your child:
Ask about it. Your child may be relieved to share the problem with you.
Tell your child he/she is not alone. Let him or her know that self-injury isn't uncommon and that there are plenty of people who understand and can help.
Most importantly, seek support. Make an appointment for your child to see a mental health professional for treatment.