One day, my daughter came home from school and told me her friend had cut herself. My reaction was “she did what?” My daughter explained that her friend is “going through some stuff” and she had been cutting her arm, just enough to cause pain but not enough to cause serious harm. After that first time, she has mentioned many other friends who cut themselves, telling me about it like it’s no big deal.
This self-harm trend is huge and most parents don’t even know it’s happening.
Growing up, I can’t remember ever considering cutting myself, nor do I remember hearing anyone else consider it. But today, cutting is a way some teens are coping with strong emotions, intense pressure, or relationship problems. It’s a way for a teen to let out what she is feeling inside. According to NDTV, self-harm is not a fashion fad, nor is it suicidal behavior. It is merely a coping mechanism and one in 12 teens have tried it
Where do teens learn about this? Believe it or not, there are dozens of YouTube “how to” cutting videos.
The triggers are pretty much the same ones that have always caused teens trouble:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Complicated relationships
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Stress and emotional burden
Today, the first of March is marked as Self-Injury Awareness Day. An orange ribbon is commonly associated with this campaign.
If you’re a parent who has seen signs that your teen is self injuring, this book could be a resource for you, A Caregiver’s Guide to Self-injury. So could these fact sheets with dos and don’ts for approaching your teen about it.
If you suspect your teen has inflicted self-injury — bruises, scratches, cuts– it’s a great opportunity to have a conversation about it. This is definitely not a rare phenomenon so if you’re suspicious, use today to do something about it. You can follow the conversation on Twitter at #SIAD.
This is a powerful video made by a teen who talks about her personal experience with cutting