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Self Mutilation- Cut It Out ! By Hanna DeBruhl Peer Counselor Spring 2005 What is Self Mutilation ? Self mutilation is deliberate self harm or self-injury. The people who are self mutilators are also often called “cutters”. They often use razor blades or knives to cut themselves. They also injure themselves by pulling their hair, burning themselves, fracturing their own bones, scratching or head banging. When Does It Begin? Self mutilation usually begins in adolescence and can last as long as 15-20 years. Adolescence is a time when people are going through many changes and trying to find out who they are. They want to be socially connected with peers. Why Do People Hurt Themselves? Many people who are cutters say that doing this helps them feel better. It makes them feel “alive” and releases emotional stress. These people have so much inner pain that they cannot express it verbally. They cut themselves instead. Myths People who cut themselves are NOT always suicidal. They do not always want to die. Not all cutters are women. “Time” magazine reports that 40% of cutters are men! Cutters are always members of only certain racial or ethnic groups. The Truth Half of all people who self-mutilate were sexually abused or traumatized as children. 2 million people in the world are self-injurers. Cutting makes the cutter feel that he/she is in control of something. Self mutilation has been linked to people with eating disorders. Self mutilation has been called the “new anorexia”. Who are self mutilators? They have not learned how to deal with their emotions well, and do not know how to verbalize their feelings. Many have negative self images. They may have difficulty feeling secure in relationships. Recent history Self mutilation was not taken seriously for many years. People who had this problem were often either ignored or placed in a psychiatric ward . When the late Princess Diana disclosed that she was a cutter, more media attention was given to this problem. Books, movies and TV shows have begun recently featuring more stories of self mutilation. Movies include “Thirteen.” Books include Bodily Harm and A Bright Red Scream. It’s a Group Thing! Scary but true! More and more teens are “cutting” in groups. Having a relationship with someone else that cuts “normalizes” self mutilation. There are chat groups online that discuss better ways to hide the cuts and better ways to cut. Cutting can become a competition. For example, cutters may see try to see who has a deeper cut or who can take the most pain. Cutting Club Cutting in groups is increasing and becoming more popular. The teens feel that they are socially connected and understood by the people who cut with them. They do not feel like an outsider anymore, because they are not alone in what they do. This is an alarming trend, because they see nothing wrong with what they are doing if their peers are doing the same thing! How To Know? Self mutilators hide their cuts and scars well. The cuts are usually long and on their arms, sometimes on the thighs or their stomach. They will often wear long sleeve shirts and pants even in the hot weather. They will also make excuses for their cuts, such as “an animal has scratched” them. What You Can Do If someone you know has a problem with self mutilation, tell someone that can help. Listen to them when they tell you their problems. Do not judge them. Telling someone is hard enough. Be supportive! Where to Go for Help You cannot solve a friend or family member’s problem but you can tell them where to turn for help. www.selfinjury.com is a website that is helpful. The hotline is 800 –DON’T-CUT Conclusions Self Mutilation is a serious problem effecting many people. People who self mutilate need support and love from family and friends! Self mutilation can be stopped with help from therapy. Many articles tell about people who were hurting themselves, got help and then stopped self mutilating. The End! Thanks for listening to this presentation on self mutilation!
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