Self Injury

November 3, 2010
Millions of Americans participate in self-injurious activity. The majority of these people are either teenagers, or started self-harming as teenagers. It is a vastly under-researched topic, and yet one that affects many young people today.

I wish I could say that I am opinionated about this topic because of sheer interest and empathy that I feel for those who hurt themselves. But the reality is that I used to indulge in self-destructive behavior myself.

Ever since I was young, I would have these moments where I would get depressed nearly to the point of hysteria. In these secret moments, I would retreat to the privacy of my room and allow myself to fall apart. But after a while, it became overwhelming. My mind was so crowded with emotional pains that I needed some kind of relief. I would punch my pillow, throw things across the room, and even tear up pieces of cloth. I felt like a crazy person, sobbing my eyes out and throwing tantrums for no apparent reason. But eventually, it got to the point where I found no relief in any of the actions I took out on inanimate objects. I needed something that could really distract me from my thoughts and my pains. Something physical, something real.

As a person afraid of anything sharp and pointy- needles, knives, razors, etc.- I never dreamed of cutting. But soon enough I found myself self-injuring in another way- scratching. It started out that I would just get so frustrated in my hysteria that I would scratch at myself just to feel some kind of release. Later on, that wasn’t enough. So I’d bite a fingernail into a sharp point and dig it into my wrist, making swift vertical slits.

The pain would be intense enough for me to silence the obsessive depressive thoughts that had taken over my mind. Instead I could just focus on the physical pain. I found myself starting to calm down. I’d wipe away the blood, and cover up the scars by wearing long-sleeved shirts.

At the time, I didn’t know that scratching was a common form of self-injury. I thought I was crazy. But eventually, when my depression and anxiety became more severe, I got the help I needed. It took therapy and a few tries with different types of medications, but eventually, I found relief. And that’s when I started thinking about other people who self-injured. Though my behavior was definitely self-destructive, I knew that other people were far worse off than I was. Scratching to the point of drawing blood is unhealthy, but then there’s cutting.

The thing that concerns me most about cutting is that it’s so dangerous. People rarely self-injure with the intent of suicide. And though a lot of people think that cutters hurt themselves for attention, this is rarely the case. It’s a coping mechanism. Like how I used scratching to distract from my emotional pain, cutters cut themselves to release emotional tension and anxiety.

But what a lot of cutters don’t know is that they can easily kill themselves without even trying. All it takes is one cut that goes just a little too deep, in just the right spot, and the person can die. It’s inexcusable that so many teenagers don’t know this about cutting. It should be something that is taught in health classes when topics about depression and self-injury are brought up. But what’s worse is when teens do know that they can die from it, but just don’t care. Teens should be getting help before they ever reach this point.

Teenagers all over the country are affected by anxiety and depression, and far too many take out their pains on themselves. Self-injury comes in many forms: scratching, cutting, pulling out hair, and even burning one’s skin. The release felt from hurting oneself can be addicting, and can escalate into more severe forms of self-harm.

The thing about self-injury is that though it may allow people to feel temporary relief, it is not a long-term solution to any problem. Teens who feel badly enough to hurt themselves need more help than self-injuring can provide. The most important thing is recognizing that it’s okay to ask for help. I believe that anyone who knows a self-injurer should urge them to talk to somebody. Therapy can seem intimidating, but it is a necessary step to take on the road to recovery.

I cannot describe the relief I felt when I no longer relied on making myself bleed to feel better. It is my point of view that more resources be available to self-injurious teenagers. Everyone should have access to the help and education that can help them recover. More information should be provided to teens about the dangers of cutting, and the futility of self-injury. My journey with self-harm ended with recovery, but not everybody’s story ends that way. It’s imperative for this generation of teens to be well-informed about self-injury, and to be provided with all of the resources that can offer both prevention and treatment.

Join the Discussion

This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

HAILO said...
Mar. 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm
I get it.  I am so proud that you are better now! :)
Maryelle said...
Mar. 10, 2013 at 3:29 am
This is an awesome article. Written from a “real”point of view. Self harm is a problem that is underrated and overlooked. In summer you can walk around with tons of bracelets and long sleeved shirts and no one is interested in it. You can wear an elastic bandage for P, and again, no one asks about it. The majority really thinks that cutters cut, because they want to die. A friend of mine has scars on her arm, and even though her cat caused them (it was really her cat) a girl from m... (more »)
SpringRayyn said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm
Wow, I never knew a person could die from cutting! This really does show me information that I probably never would have found out if I hadn't read it! Awesome job!
storms1796 said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 12:00 am
I can completely relate to this.
randomgirlyoudontknow said...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm
I know exactly how you feel; I went through the exact same thing myself. And finding someone who went through it as well is comforting. I'm so glad you've recovored. :]
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