Teens Who Cut And Why They Do It

Recently, there have been hot debates around mental health. People are more open and willing to talk about their mental health. A positive wave of support is visible among people for individuals sharing personal mental health stories. Like other complications, teen cutting and self-harming are also related to the mental state of a person.


Angelina Jolie photo by AP/Joel Ryan

Actress Angelina Jolie told Parade Magazine, “I used to cut myself or jump out of airplanes, trying to find something new to push up against because sometimes everything else felt too easy.” And actress Lindsay Lohan who started in the mega-hit Mean Girls didn’t hide the fact that she has cut herself in the past. 

And Princess Diana told NBC that she used to hurt herself because she was unhappy with the way she was being treated by Prince Charles. She recalled, “He said I was crying wolf. So, I picked up a penknife off his dressing table and I scratched myself heavily and there was a lot of blood.”  In 2013, Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris attempted suicide and many believed that she had cut marks on her wrists.

Additional facts about Cutting

Self-injury refers to activities where a person intentionally harms themselves for relief. It is found that teens cut and self-harm when they fail to handle and manage their emotional ocean. According to a study, 17% of people self-harm at one or another point in their lives. On average, at age 13, the first incident of self-injury occurs. The study also noticed that the prevalent self-injury was cutting, with 45% of people using the cutting method. 50% of the participants said they approached friends for help, not professionals, for various reasons.

“But there are very few dedicated research centers for self-harm, and even fewer clinics specializing in treatment. When youngsters who injure themselves seek help, they are often met with alarm, misunderstanding, and overreaction,” wrote Benedict Carey of the New York Times.

“The apparent epidemic levels of the behavior have exposed a structural weakness of psychiatric care: Because self-injury is considered a “symptom,” and not a stand-alone diagnosis like depression, the testing of treatments has been haphazard and therapists have little evidence to draw on.”

Self-Injury and Cutting: Statistics

Photo by m.

Children and adults are less likely to engage in self-harming activities. Only 5% of adults perform self-injury in their lifetime. On the other hand, adolescents top the list of the self-harming population, with 17% engaging at least once in such activities. Similarly, 15% of college students are also reported to have engaged in self-injury and cutting. Males don’t report self-injury properly, but 35% of cases are males, while the rest are self-harming females. Homo-sexual and other sexual minorities engage in such acts.

People self-harm in multiple ways. Let’s discuss the prevalent ones


It’s the most prevalent type of self-injury. Teens cut their skin with sharp objects like broken glass or knives. Some make random cuts, while others make different shapes through minor cuts, and the design appears after the wound heals.


Photo by Guido Jansen

It’s a relatively less used way of harming oneself. Such people use lighters, cigarettes, and matches, etc., to inflict pain. They do it to divert their attention from specific issues to physical pain.

Other ways of self-injury are hitting the head on the wall, choking, scratching, pulling hair, etc.

Reasons for Self-Injury:

photo by Markus Spiske

According to health experts, it’s an unhealthy way to combat unpleasant emotions or feelings. Some people feel more intensely than others. Everyone has a different coping mechanism, and some choose the path of self-injury. Some teens cut or self-harm to divert their attention from emotional pain to physical pain. It may seem easy to bear or heal.

It’s a way of expression for some. They self-harm to get the attention of their parents or someone else and convey their message intensely.  Some people think they are useless and worthless. They possess a constant feeling of disgust and struggle to punish themselves through self-injury.

Identification and Treatment of Teen Cutting and Self-Injury:

You might think it’ll be easy to spot such teens. However, it’s not because they conceal their injuries well. But if you care for someone, you’ll have to look for signs. For instance, if you realize a cut, ask them. They’ll probably make excuses like “it’s just a scratch” or “cat claws,” etc.

So, you have to pursue it if you want to get to the truth. Secondly, if your child’s or friend’s mood changes suddenly after spending some time alone, it might be a sign of self-harm. Sometimes, you’ll find tissues covered with blood in the dustbin. It can reveal the self-harming behavior of the person.

After pursuing the clues and identifying the problem, don’t judge and stay open-minded. Talk about it and reach the root of the situation. Respecting your child’s or friend’s emotions will earn you trust, and they can tell you everything. Because treatment can only be improved by adequately understanding the person and situation.

Treatments for self-injury include individual therapy and dialectic behavior therapy (DBT). It’s one of the most effective treatments utilizing productive sessions with the person. They’re provided knowledge and techniques on coping with distressing emotions and unpleasant feelings in a healthy way, instead of self-injury.

However, there’s still much research needed in this area to identify the problem more accurately and provide more efficient solutions for it.

Nisar Ullah
I'm Nisar. Currently, I'm studying English literature and linguistics. Nature has always fascinated me and made me a passionate photographer and writer. I like traveling and exploring new things. He lives in Pakistan and is an assignment writer for this site.

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