Help for cutters and others who self-injure in some way
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).
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
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.
“…Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God.” —Isaiah 50:10 NKJV excerpt
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” —Romans 7:18-24 ESV
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.
Useful off-site links about cutting and other forms of self-injury
- Focus on the Family / Helpline: 1-800-A-Family (1-800-232-6459) / Christian Counselors Network
Secret Shame / Self-injury: You are NOT the only one — information and suggestions concerning cutting and other forms of self-injury / help for families / links / references / treatment resources
- Safe Alternatives – Self Abuse Finally Ends / Helpline: 800-DONTCUT (1-800-366-8288)
Self-harm | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness / Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI
American Self-Harm Information Clearinghouse (ASHIC) - Organization seeks to increase public awareness of self-harm. Explore SI facts and myths or find details about National Self-Injury Awareness Day.
Befrienders International - Self-Injury - Fact sheets on self-harm / crisis support via e-mail or telephone in English, Norwegian, Malay, Estonian, Hungarian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Magyar, Polish, etc.
- International Society for the Study of Self Injury
- Self Mutilators Anonymous
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America —support groups
- Article: Nonsuicidal Self injury in Adolescents
Article: “Contagion of deliberate self-harm among adolescent inpatients.” Taiminen TJ, Kallio-Soukainen K, Nokso-Koivisto H, et al. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 1998; 37:211–217.
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
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)
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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