This week's report that Disney star Demi Lovato headed to rehab initially felt like yet another story of a teen idol out of control. Then we learned Lovato's problem included eating disorders and cutting, and that's when things started to feel really, really sad.
Cutting is a trend among young adults that can last a lifetime and have devastating results. While every child is different, self-injury can be a way a teen takes control, or releases emotional pain. Sometimes victims of abuse find that physically injuring themselves through cutting, burning, or other ways is the only way they don't feel numb.
Regardless, cutting is not an acceptable way to deal with difficult emotions, and if you see the following signs of cutting or self-injury in your child, get her help right away.
- The most obvious signs are the physical wounds or scars. If your child is constantly getting injured and blaming it on being clumsy or cat scratches, this is a major warning sign.
- If you discover lots of first-aid supplies are missing or you're re-stocking more often than usual.
- If your child wears long-sleeves constantly, in the house, in the summer, to bed -- they could be hiding wounds and scars.
- If your child is suddenly remote, withdrawn, or seems depressed.
- If your child has complained of bullying at school. Often victims of bullies resort to cutting as a way to release their negative feelings.
- If your child has an eating disorder, cutting can often go hand-in-hand.
- If you find sharp objects, like razors, in his or her room.
A cutter needs to receive professional help whether it's in the form of therapy, hospitalization, or meeting regularly with a trusted member of the clergy. Teaching healthy ways to express frustration, anger, and hopelessness can relieve the overwhelming need to self-mutilate.
Do you worry about your kid being a cutter?
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