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Help for cutters
and others who self-injure in some way



Depression is a common problem. Photo Courtesy of Films for Christ. Copyrighted.

Self-injury in the form of cutting has become an increasingly popular practice among young people. We are often contacted by young women and men who are doing this to themselves, and seeking help.

“Contrary to popular myth, people who harm themselves are not trying to commit suicide. They use self-harm as a way of coping with difficult emotions. Instead of expressing their feelings openly, they take them out on their bodies by cutting or burning themselves, picking their skin, taking an overdose, bruising themselves or pulling their hair out.

…Triggers for self-harm can include bullying, bereavement, pressure at work, abuse, financial problems, pressure to fit in and relationship problems. When these pressures pile up, people can find it difficult to cope. Some say that they feel things are out of control.

One sufferer said: ‘I think control's a big thing. You can't control what's happening around you, but you can control what you do to yourself.’

Self-harm is often linked to feelings of self-hatred and depression and appears more common in women than men. Experts suggest this may be because men find it easier to express emotions like anger in an outward way or take it out on others. Some people find it difficult to give up the behavior despite realizing that it could be life-threatening and is not rational” (BBC News - medical report).

Woman. Copyrighted image.
Biblical Answers

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).

How can I be and feel forgiven? - Answer

If God forgives me every time I ask, why do I still feel so guilty? Answer

Suicide, what does the Bible say? Answer

If God knows I am HURTING, why doesn't He help me? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with DEPRESSION? Answer

Are there biblical examples of DEPRESSION or how to deal with it? Answer

I'M UGLY. Why was God so unfair to me this way? Answer

Are you harming yourself by cutting, burning or in some other way? This is an outward expression of all the pain you are carrying inside. God understands why you do it. He sees the turmoil and shame inside of you. He wants to help, if you will let Him. Some are harming themselves because they think that they're hopelessly bad, and they are filled with guilt, or they feel they're losing control.

“Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Isaiah 50:10).

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. …it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. …What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:18-24).

If you are reaching for hope and help, we urge you to contact a licensed Christian counselor in your area for personal assistance in overcoming this problem. If you don't know where to find one, contact a pastor who can help you locate an expert. All the anxiety and problems that you are facing can be overcome.

Also, feel free to contact one of our Christian volunteers to discuss your situation and receive prayer for you.

Useful links about cutting and other forms of self-injury (off-site)

Christian

Secular

Books

  • No More Pain!: Breaking the Silence of Self-Injury by Vicki F. Duffy (Xulon Press, 2004) (ISBN 1-594675-42-2) (Christian)—Author Duffy shares her first-hand experiences and triumphs over self-injury and other adversities in an insightful way. She reveals its cause and effect. This book is a great resource for anyone supporting a loved one who intentionally harms his or her own body. It is also for those who are convinced that overcoming self-inflicted violence is impossible. Through personal experience, Vicki explains how true freedom can be attained. You will find help in understanding what you or your loved one is facing and in discerning the root of the problem. You will then be able to go forward victoriously, living the life intended for you! The book discusses: How to overcome self-injury / Creative alternatives to harming / How to overcome negative thoughts / How to break free from your past / Recovery is possible / Awareness, information, and support / Coping skills for family and friends. Vicki is currently in the process of obtaining a degree in psychology.

  • Book: Look Beyond the Scars by Connie Hanagan, 2008 - written to raise awareness of self-injury and prompt debate about how best social care, health, education and other services can respond to young people who deliberately injure themselves

  • Book: Bodies under Siege: Self-Mutilation and Body Modification in Culture and Psychiatry Bodies under Siege: Self-Mutilation and Body Modification in Culture and Psychiatry by Armando R. Favazza (1987, 1996).

  • Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Healing Program for Self-Injurers by Karen Conterio, Wendy Lader, Jennifer Kingson Bloom (Hyperion, 1999).

  • A Bright Red Scream: Self-Mutilation and the Language of Pain by Marilee Strong (2001).

  • Coping with Self-Mutilation: A Helping Book for Teens Who Hurt Themselves by Alicia Clarke, Carolyn Simpson (1997) - self-help measures and available treatment. Brief, personal stories and profiles illustrate the author's points.

  • Cut by Patricia McCormick (Front Street, 2000, 2002) - While confined to a mental hospital, thirteen-year-old Callie slowly comes to understand some of the reasons behind her self-injury, and gradually starts to get better.

  • Cutting by Steven Levenkron

  • Cutting and Self-Mutilation: When Teens Injure Themselves by Kathleen Winkler (Enslow Publishers, 2003).

  • Cutting the Pain Away: Understanding Self-Mutilation by Ann Holmes, Carol C. Nadelson, editor (May 1999).

  • Cutting: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Mutilation by Steven Levenkron (1998) - Known as the illness of the 1990s, close to two million Americans and possibly more suffer from the psychological disorder of self-mutilation. The most prominent public admission was that of Princess Diana. Written for the self-mutilator, parents, friends, and therapists.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Self-Mutilation: A Helping Book for Teens Who Hurt Themselves by Gina Ng (1998)

  • Book: The Luckiest Girl in the World The Luckiest Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron (1998), 189 pp. - A bright and attractive figure-skating star, Katie Roskova appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. However, the smile she presents to others cannot camouflage the pain she feels inside—panic at the thought of failure, anger at the ambitious mother she seems never able to please, and disappointment in the father who walked out on her when she was a small child. Unable to express her feelings outwardly, Katie internalizes her pain …cutting herself - taking a pair of scissors to her arm until she draws blood. Terrified that her shameful secret will be discovered, she only cuts herself in private and hides her scars beneath long-sleeve shirts.

  • The Scarred Soul: Understanding and Ending Self-Inflicted Violence by Tracy Alderman

  • Self-Injurious Behaviors: Assessment and Treatment by Daphne Simeon, Eric Hollander, editor (2001).

  • Self-Mutilation by Barent W. Walsh, Paul M. Rosen, Paul Rosen (1988) - for mental health professionals who come in contact with self-destructive behaviors.

  • Skin Game: A Cutter's Memoir by Caroline Kettlewell (2000).

  • When the Body Is the Target: Self-Harm, Pain, and Traumatic Attachments by Sharon Klayman Farber, Saron Klayman Farber (2000, 2002) - Farber, a clinical social worker, offers insights for the mental health professional struggling to understand self-harm and its origins. Using attachment theory to explain how addictive connections to pain and suffering develop, she discusses many kinds of behavior and explores the language of self-harm and the translation of that language and its psychic functions in the therapeutic setting. She includes rich clinical material in providing a practical approach to the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of such patients, and shows how the attachment relationship formed in treatment can serve as the cornerstone of therapeutic change.

  • Women and Self-Harm: Understanding, Coping and Healing from Self-Mutilation by Gerrilyn Smith, Dee Cox, Jacqui Saradjian (1999).

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