Monday, February 2, 2009

Cutting Post 2

Yesterday, my son went to a girl's birthday party and somehow, like always, they ended up back in our house. I'll call the birthday girl Casey. I had noticed marks on her arms and legs, strangely symmetrical lines that never seemed to heal. And as usual, when I asked my son about those marks later, he told me he was busy. (He was making a frozen pizza and texting the kids who had just left our house - when I pointed out to him that didn't qualify him as busy, he got the desperate look of a trapped animal).

So yes, he said, she's a cutter, only she's a real cutter and not a fake emo cutter.
Ahh, I said, that's...what on earth?

I know teenagers cut themselves. There's at least one YA book on it and it's being mentioned more and more in YA lit. I've heard the teenagers in my living room say sentences such as, "Oh, Josh, the kid who cuts?" Followed by, "Nah, he only cut when he was going out with so and so...he doesn't anymore." Cutting is mentioned in a lot of metal song lyrics. It's a strangely accepted habit.

Kids who cut say they do it because it makes them feel better, and this is true. Doctors say cutting releases endorphins which actually DOES make the kids feel better. It's a form of release.

But the problem I see, aside from the bizarreness of self mutilation, is that there are "fake" cutters (emo cutting for attention) and the more Goth type of cutting which the kids view as authentic and a little brave. How does anyone tell when the attention-getting cutting crosses the line? And why do parents not know more about this?

When I casually mentioned this once before, in front of Casey's step mom, she thought I was referring to cutting class. She said she had never heard of it and changed the subject.

That exchange explained a lot about Casey and probably about most teens who engage in this habit.

Mary Witzl said...
My kids have friends who cut, and it is so hard to understand. They have confirmed what you say -- that emos only talk about doing it, but cutters are emos who have graduated. They also claim that it is a growing trend and that younger kids are beginning to do it more. They swear that not all the kids who do it do it because they are troubled; rather they do it because it is a trend.

Like your son's friend, a friend of my eldest daughter cuts obsessively and has a whole array of cuts that are worryingly deep and festering. They will absolutely scar. I know her parents; they are very bright, good people. Another girl who cuts has a father in prison. It just doesn't seem to make sense, but it does make tattoos and piercings seem tame.

Wednesday, 06 August, 2008

Anne Spollen said...
Right, there have been kids as young as 10 and 11 imitating their teenage siblings. And it's impossible to sort out which kids are the "real" cutters and which ones just talk about it.
It's also spreading -- so many kids are doing this now that it's becoming part of the teen angst outfit.

Thursday, 07 August, 2008

Mary Witzl said...
I was thinking the other day about this -- how terrible it is that kids are scarring themselves this way, for fashion. Then I met a woman my age who has been scarring HERself for fashion for the past 20 years, going to tanning salons and spending ever spare moment roasting in the sun. And I do believe that even serious cutters might have healthier skin than hers.

It could be worse. And if these cutters really do go out into the sun, it would be worse.

Friday, 15 August, 2008

TerriRainer said...
My best friend's teen daughter was a cutter for years. It often escalates to suicide attempts, which was her fear.

I have researched self-mutilation, and had many talks with her daughter. I just don't get it, but it's not the first time I realize that I was raised in a different time.

Kids now days tend to shrug and not think it's abnormal to do something so ridiculous.

:) Terri

Sunday, 17 August, 2008

Anonymous said...
Just want to set something straight first. Not all kids are doing this as a form of attention, it's a problem that they cannot control.

I started this in grade 10. I am now 20yrs old and have tried stopping many times due to either a friend who would be upset with me after I did it, or as of now my boyfriend whom it effects.

Yes, I agree it is not a smart choice but I was having suicidal thoughts, and making a small cut would make me settle right down, and not even think about anything, and would usually just fall asleep.

Most kids that I've talked to who do this had a bad childhood, and/or trauma of some sort.

Oh, and people who do it don't exactly accept it. It's very very addicting. Other people do drugs, smoke, punch walls ect as a way to relieve stress, this is a different way that most people can
't control.

Tuesday, 19 August, 2008

Anne Spollen said...
I am actually researching this more because the kids in both my boys' circle of friends cut. There IS a medical reason people do this, and it is usually born out of untreated depression. It provides relief to psychic pain, and it IS spreading to kids as young as 9/10 as a practice.

But there seem to be a lot of misconceptions surrounding cutting.

Tuesday, 19 August, 2008

Anonymous said...
im a cutter and its b/c im always feeling pain from everywhere most ppl dont understand but yes i know its a big big deal but my parents know about it know and we have been dealing with it and ive been getting better but that out side of school not in school. its starts to get harder to deal with and ill find a way!

Sunday, 31 August, 2008

Anonymous said...
I cut and I can't stop. It just makes me feel better and i awlays swear I am going to do it for the last time when I am doing it. Then I don't stop. I have to do it again and my parents know and my dad saw me do it once and I just acted like I was kidding around. Me and my boyfriend cut togehther and at least he understands me.

Monday, 01 September, 2008

Anonymous said...
I know exactly how addicting cutting can be because I was a cutter once. I still think about it often and it was a release for me. My mom had a few problems when I was growing up and when she passed away, I was absolutleydevastated. It felt good to hurt myself, even though I knew it was wrong. I finally broke down to my school guidance counsler and I received some help. Unfortunately, I don't think they took it that seriously. It's so hard to stop but I have been successful for some months. I am lucky that I did not seriously scar myself or really hurt myself.

Monday, 03 November, 2008

Shane Andrews said...
THIS IS A RANT READ NO MORE IF YOU DO NOT WISH----- I dont know about any of the "medical" reasons behind it, but i am sick of hearing "OH! no one understands me, life is so hard, i think i should go slit my wrists" I do know that if every "cutter" were to get a hair-cut, some new clothes and some new friends they wouldent waste there time feeling sorry for their invisible problems

Sunday, 09 November, 2008

Natalie said...
first off I AM NOT EMO! I am someone who has many friends, I have tried every sport. I run cross country now and I like to try new things but I love to cut, its an addiction and I try to stop but it feels great. It feels great during and after and just seeing the blood is kinda a high for me. When I see the scars it shows that I did feel good and that I can feel good. You won't understand it if you don't do it but if you do cut then you do understand it.

Tuesday, 11 November, 2008

Anonymous said...
well first off...ive had a very depressing life...ive gone through many losses of homes..ive lived on the streets dad is an acholholic...majorly..he wastes all his money on beer and bars.ive lost numerous loves.right now im going through a tough time over my curret girlfirend.i sucks.i hate people seeing the scars.but it does releve some of my stress.well alot of my stress at the time but at the same time it causes more stress becasue once people notice the nagg you and make fun of you.ive tried stopping.i was oing good or mnths..but i just kept bottleing everything up then finally i just went at it and now im left with giant scars all over my arms...its a horrible adiction.

Friday, 14 November, 2008

Michelle said...
I'm 17...... And I cut. I know its stupid and my friends tend to get mad but I can't stop. I think that yes it is addicting. someone message me at

Monday, 17 November, 2008

Anonymous said...
I used to cut a lot. Medical pros think they have it down to it's just "untreated depression" it's not depression. I felt helpless a lot. I felt like everything was in shambles, my life was going down the drain and no one cared. My dad was in the hospital for cancer, my mother couldn't work, my brother too young to work, and I was the only on going to school, working to keep the family afloat, and still trying to maintain a regular lifestlye. It's a relief thing. It was something I could control. I could make the pain stop, I could feel numb and keep going. That's what it's like. I'm not emo and I never was. I don't just wear all black and cry and say my life is horrible. I know there are others worse off out there. To some cutting is fashion a new trend that scars but to me it was an escape from the world I couldn't handle at 16. Today I think about it but I don't do it. I stopped for good when my boyfriend asked me to when he cried that one day he didn't want to find me dead. I do have scars that run deep. I look at them and know but it is an addiction that you have to fight hard against. This was just me other people have different stories.

Wednesday, 03 December, 2008

Anonymous said...
i don't think anyone can really talk about this unless it's happened to them. when i'm in that frame of mind i can't think of what else i could do, cutting actually seems like a solution. and it is, it seems to solve everything just for a few seconds. i can remember cutting before i was 10, it just made me feel good- by the time i was 12 all of my friends were doing it, and i became part of some sort of cult. i feel sorry for anyone cutting for a trend, but at the same time they make me sick- because i'm 17 now and i still haven't beaten it.

Saturday, 13 December, 2008

Anonymous said...
Hi,iam 18 and last year i cut my self two one knows it. i don't know why,and how i did it,the only thing i know is that when you do it,it feels taking drugs,its really addicting,but when you see the scars you want to stop.i have manage to stop it,but i still have the scars.if you have never done this you can't know nothing,its bad and after you feel sorry,but you want to do it's a desease.i wish you all good luck.

Wednesday, 24 December, 2008

Anonymous said...
i cut. and im young. but im adicted. i try to stop, but can't. and its not that bad. would you rather me do druges. so what i cute. i lose a lot of blood. but i haven't gone to the hospitale yet. I have beencuting for what tree years.

Friday, 26 December, 2008

Anonymous said...
fake cutters. or real cutters. they still cut. and not everyone who cuts. is emo.

i'm 17 and i cut. i never ever everrrr thought that i would get to such a low. its an addiction and honestly people who cut need help. i'm getting the help i need. but when you look at me... the thought of myself being a cutter. would never cross your mind. i'm the good lil christian girl.

Shane Andrews.... people like you make me want to scream. its so insensitive to how other people are feeling. do you even know some of the hell that people have to live with each day? you shouldn't judge.

A sick as this sounds. the endorphins realeased when cutting are the same that are realeased when someone looks at porn. its a sick addiction. and its sad that so many people have to realease anxiety this way.. i have no idea how to stop cutting. even with help. it takes so much strength.

Wednesday, 21 January, 2009

Anonymous said...
i cut. it's not because i was abused or mistreated. i am 14 and thriving at school. but sometimes this darker side to me comes out when no one is around(mostly at night) and i grab broken glass, or a knife or anything and i cut myself. i want to talk to someone about it, but i dont know who to talk to. my parents dont know, they can never know. and the only other person i know who cuts as well only does it for attention. i dont like talking to her. i dont want to talk to an adult....can anyone help me?

Monday, 26 January, 2009

Anonymous said...
I'm only thirteen and I life isn't even bad but I definetly don't do it for attention. I'm so ashamed of it and most of my friends think it's crazy. Last year I was in a really deep depression and I wanted to commit suicide. But this year I found God and am actually happy. Yet I still cut. It's a comfort to know I can always turn to my blade when I feel down. A big reason why I cut is because I absolutely hate myself. I can't say it any more plainly than that. I once reached out to my mom and told her I cut but she just told me I was crazy and gave me a lecture. I'm never going to tell her anything again because she doesn't understand. I do feel extremely guilty knowing there are kids out there who have horrible lives but I can't stop. Cutting is the only control I have and I deserve the pain. When I screw up at anything I have to punish myself. I like knowing that at the end of the day I can watch blood drip down my arm and let go of everything inside of me. I hate people who think this is a cry for attention. I hope I helped you understand better.

Wednesday, 28 January, 2009

marisela said...
i've been in & out of hospitals & "rehabs" for this & other stuff. buthow i see it is that everyone is different. some people & kids do it for attention & almost 100% of the time the ones that say i don't do it for attention are doing it for attention. please don't assume and categorize everyone who do this as one. everyone copes with life differently some by cleaning, exercising, talking, using drugs, cutting, studying, etc...... but in the end everyone is the same & everyone needs love & support. if u know someone doing this talk to them & get them help. don't give up on them, pull away or judge them just love them and support them for the good things.
parents please don't judge and just talk to ur kids & love them. again support them for the good and always be there for them even if u don't agree. i never had that but if i did i wouldn't have made many of the poor choices i did. please please please whatever u do don't judge or categorize everyone who do cut.

Monday, 02 February, 2009

Cutting Post 1 (From AnneSpollensAuthorBlog)

Blogs remind me of snapsnots, of short little conversations that I might hear on an elevator or in a waiting room. A lot of them are funny. I tend not to take blog reading or writing too seriously. But there are exceptions. My exception is the blog I wrote on cutting. It generated a few anonymous comments, and a lot of email from kids who cut and from kids who were trying not to cut.

Over the weekend, a teen told me there was to be a cutting party at a friend's house. One of my sons had been invited (he couldn't go because I did not know the parents and no one seemed to know if they would be home). She went on to say this wasn't the first cutting party she knew about.

Apparently, at a cutting party, you make a choice whether or not you want to participate. As I stood in the kitchen making snacks for the kids, I had to will myself to listen with an open mind. Here I was with multi grain organic chips and soda from the health food store trying not to notice the irony of my desire to keep them healthy and safe, and their desire to "experiment" -- I also know that not listening to teens, no matter how upsetting the story, only makes matters worse.

So you don't have to cut at a party like this. She said there's no pressure like that. The upsetting part is how accepted a behavior it is becoming: have something to eat, talk, cut, listen to music. I asked her if I had it right. She said I did. She also told me how a lot of girls had watched a BBC production of Princess Diana admitting to cutting her arms and legs. (But this behavior is also common in boys) I don't know whether that BBC taping normalized the behavior or not, but it's now making the myspace rounds.

I learned a lot from the teens who wrote to me about their experiences with cutting:
cutting is real, and cutting is spreading. And the behavior, even if it begins as an experiment, can quickly become a compulsion. The scariest aspect? The average age to begin cutting is currently between 9 and 10.

Marcia said...
There are no words. I'm just blown away by this. Cutting parties? You aren't pressured to cut -- but you would want to attend if you don't cut? You know, as freaked as I am by cutting, I'm even more freaked that I don't get it. I don't get why it would be a community thing, or just part of an evening.

Monday, 01 September, 2008

Anne Spollen said...
I am struggling to understand this, too. Apparently, cutting is an option and the kids sort of accept it -- bizarre as that sounds to us. It's usually done away in another room and can be hidden by clothing.

The other side of this is that kids emailed me about their experiences, and they are - or were - clearly in some sort of pain. And based on those emails, it's a habit that seems enormously difficult to stop once it's begun.

I had no idea the extent of this until I wrote that blog and got that response. It's not local or limited to my sons' friends at all; it's a widespread and crosses over all boundaries.

Monday, 01 September, 2008

TerriRainer said...
I think on that post I mentioned my friends daughter, now almost 18, who began cutting in her early teens.

I have had many conversations with her, and did some research into self-mutilation trying to understand.

It does end up an addiction.

I was also told that it's exciting, thinking that if you cut a bit too deep, or in just the right spot, you could accidently hit an artery and bleed to death.

Heck, we just drove our cars fast...that was exciting, but to cause yourself pain to "feel alive"...WTF?

:) Terri

Monday, 01 September, 2008

Tabitha said...
Wow, that just scares me. Terrifies me. My boys just turned 3 and 5, and the *average* age to start cutting is 9 or 10?? That means some kids start earlier, and some start later. Geez...I'm so not ready for that.

I can see how easily it could become an addiction. With each cut, the body produces endorphins and creates a natural high. Kids with problems they want to escape, or kids who are simply suceptible to addition could easily get caught up in it. That scares the crap out of me.

Tuesday, 02 September, 2008

Anne Spollen said...
I know what you guys are saying. I used to be a very untroubled person. After my first son was born, worrying became a part time job with occasional days when it was full time.
Sometimes I wonder how much easier the parents who aren't around for their kids have it - they don't talk about this stuff so they don't know about it. I research it...
I guess it's just the age. They seem to love risk as much as I love protection.

Wednesday, 03 September, 2008

Mary Witzl said...
Oh God. Like Marcia, I've got no words. Or at least none that would be effective against this. I think about cultures where this sort of thing is practiced as a rite of passage -- face scarring for decorative purposes, for instance. And at least there, it is done in a ceremony. It is part of the culture, and presumably it is done with a certain amount of hygiene and by people who know what they're doing. But this seems to be different.

I wonder if this is any worse than those Victorian women who had their lower ribs surgically removed to make their waists narrower? I want to think that it isn't.

What you are doing is right: you talk to the kids. I do that too. And I try not to let loose with knee-jerk responses, but it is so hard. As I write this, one of my daughter's friends is visiting. Her mother is a good friend. And this girl cuts...

Friday, 05 September, 2008

Anne Spollen said...
I have always envied those parents who participate in what I've termed "vacant parenting" - a kind of detached observation of their kids growing up. They maintain this Zen attitude that I can't seem to manage in my sleep...

I don't know what cutting is, but the folks who emailed me say it made them feel better and they just couldn't stop. And it wasn't just teens - a lot of them are now in their twenties and thirties and
they are still struggling.

I wonder if each time in history will have its puzzling rite of passage.

Saturday, 06 September, 2008

sarah said...
I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed

reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Friday, 21 November, 2008

Anne Spollen said...
Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! And you came all the way back here? Wow - I get email alerts when people post messages, and I couldn't find you.

Anyway, welcome, and I'm glad you enjoy the blog! :)

Friday, 21 November, 2008