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Cutting & Self-Injury

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1 Your Role
I want to learn about treatment options for:


2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old


graduated high school

3 Condition Information
Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.
What is cutting & self-injury?

Self-harming, also known as self-injury, self-mutilation, self-inflicted violence or cutting, refers to a spectrum of disorders in which the individual inflicts harm on himself to relieve tension or respond to stressful situations. Self-harm is most common in adolescents, teens and young adults but can occur at any age. Though not a suicide attempt, cutting can result in serious injuries and accidental death.

Cutting & Self-Injuries

Initially, self-harmers may engage in injurious behavior on impulse. When impulsive self-harm begets momentary calm and relief from tension, the behavior can become repetitive and addictive. Self-harmers continue to cut (despite the guilt that follows), because they crave temporary relief from stress and psychological pain.

While the majority of self-harmers engage in skin cutting behaviors, many other forms of self-harm exist. Individuals may also scratch, burn, pull out hair, break bones, hit, punch, pierce the skin, ingest toxic substances, bite, carve the skin or interfere with wound healing.

Risk factors associated with cutting and self-injury.

People hurt themselves for a myriad of reasons. In addition to relieving stress, anxiety or pressure, people cut to relieve feelings of gross inadequacy and a serious lack of self-esteem. Risk factors for self-injury include suffering from co-occurring disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder or phobia; a history of child abuse or other childhood trauma; and having friends who self-injure. Self-harmers also have an increased risk of suicide and substance abuse.

Signs of self-injury.

Self-injury is often kept secret, so it can be difficult to detect its signs and symptoms. Signs of self-injurious behavior may include, but are not limited to:

  • Scars, cuts, bruises or other wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Relationship troubles
  • Wearing long pants and long sleeves, even in hot weather
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • A tendency to keep sharp objects on hand
  • Claiming to have frequent accidents
  • Injuries on areas of the body that are easily reached (front of torso, arms and legs)

Treating cutting and self-injury

Treatment for self-harmers usually involves psychiatric treatment or cognitive-behavioral therapy. Therapy usually involves teaching the individual healthier coping strategies for dealing with the triggers that lead to to self-harm. Medical interventions may also be helpful, particularly in cases with co-occurring mental disorders. Inpatient treatment may be necessary for those at high risk for serious injury.