The term ‘cutting’ refers to the widespread practice of cutting yourself with a sharp object with the purpose of injuring and scaring  the skin. Although it is not much talked about in the media, this form of self harm has a growing following within the teenage population, especially girls. It is also alarming that tweens are beginning to participate in this practice as they face growing pressures in the world around them.

Teenagers who cut themselves say it helps them stay in control or relieve tension. It is often associated with depression, anxiety, binge eating and emotional issues but research has shown it does not usually lead to suicide among teenagers.

Most commonly done by children and early teenagers cutting is hidden in our society. Those who cut conceal their personal pain both physical and emotional.

Australian author Maggie Hamilton has written “What’s happening to our Girls?” this book covers many issues and discusses how our teenagers are overstimulated, oversold and oversexed. In the book she talks about cutting and says “as the self-hatred in girls grows, so too do the ways in which they express it. The number of girls who resort to self-injury has increased so much that cutting has been labeled the new anorexia. It is hard to know how many girls are cutting themselves because they do so in secret, it is now estimated that one in ten now do so.”

She goes on to give very important advice on how to help these teenagers “one of the most important messages girls need is that no-one copes all the time, and that they are not alone.”

In the USA a working party has been urging the American Psychiatric Association to elevate cutting from a symptom to a disorder in its own right, which would be called non-suicidal self injury. This new disorder would then be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which is used widely by doctors throughout the USA.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha


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