The tragic issue of cutting is what started me on the path to writing for young adults. In my debut novel, Sliding on the Edge, my main character was a cutter. Writing this book was my attempt to understand why young, bright kids were self-abusing. My research led me to a lot experts, but the book I’m featuring today wasn’t out yet, or I would have dug into it for more background information about the issues of teen girls and advice for dealing with those issues.
When I found Kelly Tonelli’s book on Book Blogs I asked her to share her expertise as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist on this topic. I’m so glad she agreed.
Hats Off Corner Welcomes Kelly Tonelli
AMAZON and BARNES and NOBLE
Cutting is when a person injures themselves by making cuts or scratches on their body with any sharp object – often deep enough to break the skin and make it bleed. These injuries can be placed on any spot on the body including arms, legs, stomachs, and wrists.
Why kids cut:
- Some kids cut as their way of coping with strong emotions, intense pressure or relationship problems. They may believe that experiencing physical pain will allow the release of emotional pain.
- Kids may be angry or ashamed about something they have done and are cutting in order to punish themselves for the “bad act”.
- Cutting may be used as a distraction from painful thoughts and feelings.
- The child may be trying to feel “something” – kids may feel emotionally numb and prefer pain to feeling nothing.
- Cutting can be a “cry for help”. Kids may cut in order to let others in their lives see how distressed they are in hopes someone will be able to help.
Cutting warning signs:
- Pattern of unexplained injuries, cuts and/or scratches.
- Insistence of wearing clothes that are counter to the weather (i.e., long sleeves or long pants on hot days) may be an effort to hide injuries.
- Finding sharp objects where they wouldn’t be expected (i.e., razors, unbent paper clips, box cutters).
- Blood stains on towels, tissues, clothes, sheets and blankets.
- Locking self away from others – being secretive about activities while alone.
- Series of “accidents” in otherwise not clumsy child.
What to do if you suspect cutting:
- Talk with your child about your concerns. Do your best to avoid shaming the child, but focus on wanting to understand and help.
- Problem solve alternative behaviors your child can utilize if the temptation to cut recurs. These can include: talking to you, physical exercise, writing about feelings, and distraction techniques (reading, TV, music, friends).
- Know when to ask for help. A mental health professional is a great resource for you and your child. Make sure your child knows the therapist is a resource to help the family, not to “fix” them or because they are “bad”.
- If your child shares future cutting incidents, do your best to come from a position of love and support, not anger and shame. Our goal is to increase communication about the behavior, not hide it away.
Thank you for such clear and helpful information, Kelly. I appreciate it and I’m sure my readers do, too. This practice isn’t going away from what I’ve read, so it’s good to have the word out. I hope none of you have to deal with cutting in your lives, but if you do, I know Kelly’s information is sound and helpful. I enjoyed reading her book, and I’ve posted a review of Teenage Girl. HERE it is!
Quote of the Week: “Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.” Marie Curie