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What is Cutting and Self-Harm?

Updated on April 6, 2019
Angelo Samonte profile image

Angelo Samonte suffers from cutting and self-harm scars. Usually annoyed when articles and forums can't get the facts about cutting right.

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What is Cutting?

Cutting, self-harm, or self-injury as defined by Wikipedia is "the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue done without suicidal intentions." In the recent years, it has been documented that people who practice such acts are victims of mental health illnesses, and what is said to be more worrying is that the number of patients coming in with self-harm injuries are becoming younger.

Examples of Self-Harm

1. Cutting

2. Pulling their hair

3. Burning

4. Scratching

5. Hitting their body parts

Why do people practice self-harm?

1. Mental Illnesses

Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety usually strips one's individual feeling of worthiness and self-esteem and as such they are driven by their emotions to do something cathartic that would help alleviate some of these problems. Cutting has been known to release huge amounts of dopamine which hooks victims of self-harm to the act.

2. Numbness

Numbness is the feeling where you are unable to think properly and can't comprehend everything around you. Your sense of sight is there but you can't pick up on what you are seeing, you can hear but you can't understand, you can feel but at the same time what you're feeling is very vague.

3. Blaming Themselves

Individuals diagnosed with mental health problems are more susceptible to being insecure. When something goes wrong, they are more likely to blame themselves for their mistakes. So, to make up for the mistake that they've caused, they hurt themselves to compensate for the mistake they've done

4. Intense Feelings

There are times where individuals who suffer from mental health problems just feel intense feelings for a very long time. You can feel incredibly sad for at least the whole day and you'd be so infuriated for feeling so sad that you'd just find just find the easiest way to shift your focus from your feelings

5. Distract Themselves

From the list above, you can see by now that those engaging in self-harm do those to distract themselves from the reality. They cut themselves so they'll be distracted by the pain they've instilled on themselves instead of dealing on what they are currently feeling.

How to know if someone is cutting

1. They usually wear long sleeves-this is to avoid attention from their scars

2. Has history with mental health problems-not everyone who suffers from mental illnesses engage in self-harm; however there's a huge correlation between the two

3. Has suicidal tendencies; to clarify not everyone who wishes to suicide deliberately harm themselves; but there are correlations

4. Has history of cutting before

5. Talk of harming themselves as if it's not a big issue

How Cutting is seen in society

Society usually labels those who suffer from their tendency to cut as suicidal, even though that can't be further from the case. The spectrum between self-harm and suicide is very broad and not well-defined. Not every one who practices self-harm wishes to commit suicide and not everyone who has done suicide have practiced self-harm; although there's an alarming 40-60% of suicide victims who has practiced self-injury in one way or another.

In some cases, cutting can be seen blasphemous or a sin in some cultures. Christian belief states that God owns a man's body; therefore the man should take care of its body very well. Doing acts of cutting or ending one's life can be considered as sin and those who do these can end up in hell.

Another perception to worry when you practice self-harm is being labeled as a freak. Instead of focusing why the individual practice such medieval way of releasing their intense emotions, society instead picks on these victims and label them as deviant.

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How You Can Help

Due to the worrying rate of people being diagnosed of mental health illnesses and victims of self-harm, many people have wished to help them and here are some tips that can help you or your friend.

1. Distract Them

One occurring thing that keeps popping out when people tell you they deliberately harm themselves is that they are only finding ways to distract themselves. So, instead of letting that manifest into something darker, help your friend by talking about something else. Talk about his favorite movie, that annoying enemy of yours, the latest food fad, anything that can help them get self-harm out of their mind.

2. Encourage them to seek professional help

Diagnosing yourself or your friend is a big no-no. That's not a job for amateurs, that's a job professionals should do. Seeking help from mental health illnesses is still not that common due to people portraying it as "first world problems" or "being overly dramatic", so you should encourage your friend and let them know that there is nothing wrong with seeking professional help.

3. Make them trust you

Your friend seriously wants to open up, believe me; however, they are used to being judged by the people around them. So, if you want them to open up to you prove to them that you are a trustworthy person that will sincerely help them.

Do you know someone that cuts themselves?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Angelo Samonte

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    • profile image

      Taimoor khan123 

      12 months ago

      I like it

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      12 months ago

      Thank you for shining a light on this topic Angelo and for making us aware of its causes. I treat people with various mental illnesses and have found that cutting and self-harm is more common in those who suffer with the more severe forms of mental illness, although I realise that this is not always the case. I have taken note of your 'How You Can Help' section which is very beneficial to friends and family who struggle to help.

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