Cutting and other forms of self-harm are medical illnesses that occur when patients hurt themselves to help deal with deep-set emotions or distress. The prevalence of intentional self-injury is increasing and understanding the totality of the disease is complex. Proper, swift treatment is the best way to help prevent any dire consequences of cutting.
Why Do People Cut Themselves?
The motives behind cutting are often counterintuitive. For an individual who does the behavior, cutting himself is how he makes himself feel better. Often, cutting is the only way he knows how to deal with negative emotions like depression, rage, guilt, emptiness and self-hatred, according to TeensHealth.
Most people who inflict self-harm do so because they need relief from all the pent-up emotions they are experiencing. Like an addiction, these people are not in full control of their actions, but rather seek the intense relief they experience after cutting themselves.
Cutters perceive that the action provides them with positive benefits. It allows them to express their feeling and feel in control. Cutting may distract them from difficult life events, relieve guilt as it can be used as a form of self-punishment, and for some cutters, make them feel more alive.
It is important to know why people cut themselves because once you know the reasons behind their actions, you can provide other options that provide the same benefits. This allows the cutter to stop cutting and use other, safer methods to deal with their emotions.
How to Tell if a Loved One Is Cutting?
- Multiple unexplained cuts or abrasions. These wounds are usually found on the wrists, arms, chest or thighs – places where your loved one can easily reach.
- Bloodstains on clothing, bedding or towels. You may also find a lot of blood-soaked tissues. Often, the cutter will try to hide these soiled fabrics. If discovered, they will deny that they own the clothing or that it was an old injury.
- Covering up. A person who cuts often wears shirts with long sleeves or long pants even if the weather is hot.
- Owning cutting instruments. Cutters will often own razors, knives, glass shards or sharp bottle caps. You may be able to see bloodstains on these instruments.
- Frequent accidents. People who cut themselves often say they were in an accident in order to explain their self-inflicted injuries. They may also say they are very clumsy or that they were working with tools.
- Isolation and irritability. Individuals who cut themselves often isolate themselves and are irritable in public. They are prickly because they are in extreme emotional distress and unable to cut themselves while in public.
Once you are able to determine that your loved one is cutting, you will obviously want to help him or her. A healthcare professional is always ready to help treat cutting disorders, but it may be difficult to convince your loved one to seek treatment. People who mutilate themselves are very secretive and do not want to share their actions with anyone. If you confront your loved one without preparation, they will usually react with anger and denial.
Staging an intervention is one of the more effective ways to approach someone suffering from a self-harming disorder. The intervention setting allows for a secure, somewhat private place for the cutter and his or her loved ones to hold a compassionate discussion. A proper dialogue can begin between the team members and their loved one. In an intervention, personal feeling and emotions can be expressed without worrying about hurting or damaging a relationship. Everyone in the intervention will know that the main goal is to help the cutter and make sure that they are well cared for.
Using a professional interventionist is also a good idea. Without proper planning, you may drive the cutter deeper into his or her feelings of depression, anger and guilt. A trained interventionist has studied the best ways to approach different patients and make sure they are comfortable within the intervention model.
What’s the Worst that Could Happen?
The risk of suicide (whether accidental or deliberate) is increased in people who cause self-harm. In cases of accidental suicide, the patient unintentionally cuts a major blood vessel. To make matters worse, these patients often cut themselves while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and these substances increase the chances of suicide
Article by Intervention Support
For more information on this subject, please contact Intervention Support at 888.312.3296 or Precious Life Services at 830.372.5980
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