Teens and Cutting, What’s Going On?

A World Health Organization (WHO) survey in England reported a three-fold increase over the last decade in the number of adolescents (ages 11, 13, and 15) who have self-harmed.

Teens and Cutting, What’s Going On?
Uploaded: Mar 29, 2015

By Caroline Fleck

When I was in high school, there were rumors about kids who cut themselves or had attempted suicide. These were serious allegations with serious social implications. Not surprisingly, these rumors were few and far between.

While training to become a psychologist, I decided to specialize in treatments for self-injury and suicidality. Although I liked working with adolescents, there wasn’t a lot of research on treatments for adolescents with these problems. Again, self-injury in adolescence seemed to be a relatively small and contained mental health issue. I nonetheless became intensively trained in working with this population, but always presumed these clients would make up only a small portion of my practice.

Then something happened. I’m not sure exactly why or when, but over time I began getting more and more calls from parents with adolescents who were intentionally harming themselves. Rather than dodging my questions or denying it, the teens I was seeing were often quite cavalier about their self-harm. More and more of the teens I was treating had friends who also cut. Some wore their scars proudly, almost like badges of achievement.


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