Cutters have historically been misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and even dismissed as "freaks" before awareness made everyone realize it's a serious mental health issue. Non-Suicidal Self-Injury is a relatively new diagnosis, which describes people who intentionally inflict harm upon themselves, but with no suicidal intent.
Now, there's another type of self-injury that makes me pray for my future teenagers: self-embedding.
Self-embedding takes cutting one level further as the person cuts themselves open and places an object inside their body, then glues or sews themselves back up. Illustrating the frightening levels this practice can reach, a 16-year-old who was admitted to the hospital for an infection had more than 20 objects under her skin show up on an ultrasound.
Items such as glass, paper clips, and a screw from eyeglasses had been purposely put under her skin as she practiced self-embedding.
Like cutting (which suddenly doesn't sound so bad right now, eh?), any type of self-mutilation is great cause for concern. It's not simply a cry for attention, it's a serious mental illness and it needs to be treated.
Kids who injure themselves in this manner generally take great pains to conceal their actions. So you have to pay attention to your child's behavior and watch out for the following signs:
- Change of behavior
- Friends who engage in self-injury
- Wearing long sleeves during hot weather
- History of not dealing with stress well
Staying involved in your child's life is the best way to identify any problem behaviors, and maintaining open communication and trust will allow you to help your child overcome these challenges. That, and seeking medical attention -- immediately.
Have you heard of self-embedding?
Image via Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr