Why Do People Cut Themselves?

There is so much confusion around the addiction of cutting. It's hard for some people to understand why you, or someone you know, would repeatedly harm themselves on purpose.  I want to break through the confusion and help those who practice cutting as a way of life. I've heard a lot of people say, why would anyone do such a thing as purposely cause pain to their bodies? So, let's begin to uncover the reasons why so many people cut themselves.

Most People Cut to Cover an Even Deeper Emotional Pain

As I have talked with hundreds of people that self-harm, one major reason emerges over and over again: Most people cut themselves to try to cope with an even deeper emotional pain. If you or anybody you know is cutting, please understand cutting is a way of covering something much deeper and painful going on inside.

Cover Self-Hate

An anonymous blogger put it this way: I used to cut because I felt like it was the only way to feel something other than the hurt and confusion and self-hate that was driving me insane. I would cut because I hated myself so much that I wanted to tear myself to pieces.

Cover Past Trauma

Most cutters' ability to cope with life is overwhelmed by powerful emotions or extreme pressure that seem too intense to bear. Jenessa said she's been a cutter for 7 years. I was sexually abused by someone very close to me. I started cutting because I always thought that what happened was my fault. I have never gotten over it, so I used to cope with any problem I had by cutting. Taking it out on myself was so much easier than figuring out what to do emotionally.

Can't Express Emotional Pain

When these emotions aren't dealt with, tension builds up. Cutting can feel like a release of this tension. Rachel said cutting is a way for her to deal with her pain: It's an escape from reality. No matter how temporary it is it's a relief to escape all the pain.

Most cutters struggle to express their pain to others. Without the words or outlet to express their emotional pain, they give into a short cut, a destructive physical expression toward themself. Laken said cutting is her first reaction when she feels disappointment or difficulty. When I fail a test, when I get in a fight, when I am called a mean name, or when anything bad happens the first thought is to cut. It is horrible and I always fall back on it.

The physical pain has a calming effect on her more agonizing emotional pain. Cutting is the treating of one pain with another. A cutter's life is one of the choices between one kind of pain or a much greater one. Amy said: It feels good when you have physical pain to take away from your emotional pain.

Avoid Dealing with Deep Feelings

The problem with self-injury as with any addiction, is that by harming yourself you never really are able to confront your deepest feelings. Perhaps that is you. You are using cutting to try to cope with an even deeper emotional pain. It is hard to say no to something that feels so good. But in the end, cutting will fail you every time.

Don't lose hope. There are healthy ways to deal with your emotions and to stop cutting for good.  Check out these helpful resources on self-harm from TheHopeLine.

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-harm, check out TheHopeLine's free eBook.

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272 comments on “Why Do People Cut Themselves?”

  1. I started cutting in highschool becouse I was curious and I liked it I was careful about it when I was found out I was overwhelmed I didn’t cut too deep but it wouldn’t stop bleeding I knew I had to get the nurse I lied saying I got attacked by a student we have 3 principals 1 for each floor I went to the one on the first floor it was only a matter of time he was looking through the school cameras and at some point I said I’m sorry but I lied to you he had no problem figuring it out he asked are you harming yourself I got pail and said I’m going for a walk I went downhill to the track I knew I’d be in a lot of trouble for walking away from a principal I had a coat on becouse I like the weather and pushing myself I don’t know how long I was out their but he was walking next to me saying I won’t tell your mom if you tell me what’s going on I wasn’t sure if I could trust him but I took a chance and said you promise he said I give you my word I told him why I was doing it while we went inside I had a DR pepper while I told him listening to music so I calmed down he said he was calling my mom I semi yelled I thought you weren’t gonna say anything he put his hand up I’m calling her gonna tell her your son seems a bit tired I think he needs some rest why don’t you pick him up that’s all I’ll tell her I do that you stop cutting yourself I said fine honestly it’s not worth cutting becouse once you have a scar it will never go away and being found out is the worst part

    1. I started cutting when I was in elamentary school I had all the friends I hoped for then came 5th grade I got my first bf he had broken up with most of my friends but at the time I needed some comfort cause my parents had fought and screamed and hit eachother a few weeks later he told me he limed another boy I woad he should tell him I thought it would just be a I like you a littel after lunch was recess he kept asking if I was ok then near the end my class mates started asking if I heard the news then.we got to class he looked depressed he siad he wanted to break up I started to cry after school he texted me lets just be friends a few weeks later he would not even talk to me then I found out that 1 of my friends were fake I started to become depressed I would not talk to anyone I whole cut myself and all I thought is how much poeple would be happier if I would die but my friends were the ones keeping me alive I am still a littel depressed though but I had friends that helped me to the very end!!!! Moral:there are people out there who care about you so don't cut EVER

      1. Help me anything I'm going insane my friends parents are hitting and yelling at eachother and I'm starting to cut shin and I feel alone and kind of emo and I want to die plz anything help me

  2. I started cutting myself because the girl i like I'm madly in love with, but she went with it for a while then told me she wasn't ready for a relationship. I feel like its my fault so i cut myself, it eased the pain of the emotional hurt I was feeling. I felt like it was my fault that she doesn't want to be with me. The emotional pain nearly drove me insane, and it did for about an hour afterwords... please leave a suggestion, anything helpful is welcome

    1. We are here to listen and help. Please know that you matter. Rejection in relationships can be overwhelming. We are proud of you for reaching out for help with cutting. We have a partner organization, Door of Hope, that specializes in Self-Harm and has recovery coaches available. Please visit http://www.thehopeline.com/partners/door-of-hope-4-teens/ for more information about them and their number to text to talk to a recovery coach. Any age can text with them for help. We also have HopeCoaches available every day from 5pm to 1am Central that you can chat online with about the emotional pain you are feeling. To chat with one of our HopeCoaches go to https://www.thehopeline.com/gethelp/

  3. Honestly I stopped cutting for 6 years, my grandmother passed away in August and recently I found out my girlfriend of 10 years is cheating on me. It's pushed me over the edge.i know if The only reason I stopped was because of my grandmother's reaction when she saw all the cuts. Now she's gone and the only person I'm close to has betrayed me and I'm back cutting again. I don't have any friends. But cutting is a release from the real world of pain I am surrounded by and it is better than feeling numb, confused, and lost. I know it's not a good coping mechanism but it makes me feel like I have some control of my life.

  4. Hi, I wont say my name but im depressed. I get abused home, bullied for no reasons, my parents slap me or smack me with belt or other metal stuff because I get 1 low grade.. They never believe me also im scared to tell my friend because they will maybe laugh at me.. I just got abused now 30 min ago, I got smacked and kicked for like 25 mins and I was thinking about cutting but im still thinking. Or run away but I have nobody to stay at for a time, And if i do that and my parents find me or i come back they will abuse me again and again.. I was crying once in my bed and my parents walked in asking me whats going on, I was getting hope because i felt finally love.. I told them about myself and my depression.. They laughed. They said i stink, gross, dumb and hopeless.. How would you feel after hearing that from ur own parents? Dead right? Yeah, i felt that and heart broken.. They said they will replace me to a bad and racist school and im very scared because all the students there are racist and i know them and they hate me. Another thing im moslim and i wear hijab. Well I have no problem with wearing hijab im just happy being moslim. Only.. If i commit suicide, by us islam you'll go to hell if u do that. So I cant end my life and the pain i always have inside.. Those words coming out peoples mouth hurt me.. Im very emotional i cry easy also if it was from my parents.. Hope you guys just give me some hope and read this.. You are the first people that know my story andmy abused and disgusting life, Thank you xxx W..

    1. We are here and we hear you. You do not deserve to be treated this way and you are valuable. It is understandable that you are struggling with depression and hurt from the abuse you are experiencing at home. You have every right to be emotional because of the situation you are in. Ending your life is not the answer. You have taken the first step by reaching out for help. Would you chat online with one of our HopeCoaches today? They will listen and offering you hope and encouragement. Our chat lines open today at 3 pm Central time. In just 3 hours. Go to https://www.thehopeline.com/gethelp/ to chat. We have some resources we can give you to help you with these thoughts. We have a partner that you can help you through this. We are emailing you with some information to help you so please check your email. If you need someone to talk to right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 or chat online with them at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/. You can reach the Crisis Text Line 24/7 by texting “START” to 741-741 too.
      Here is a list of additional suicide prevention resources https://www.thehopeline.com/suicide-prevention-resources.

    2. I feel your pain. If your friends do laugh at that then they aren't really your friends (a true friend will support and try to help you). I know that life can be rough trust me I do but at least even If they are mean to you, you still have your parents with you my friend. I really miss mine dispite every messed up thing they ever did to me. Try listening to the song friend please by 21 pilots. A good friend of mine who knows that I'm borderline scuicidal sugested its to me its begging the listener to continue to live dispite the fact they have pretty much given up on life. This song helps me a lot and I think it might belp you too just make sure to pay attention to the lyrics. From Rhiannon

    3. I’m so sorry you go though that sweetheart I wish I new you I would take you out of there and give you hope you don’t deserve to be treated that way at all!!! You are gods child he loves you and so do I 😢

    4. I will be praying
      G for you. Stay strong and don’t worry about what the people that love you say. God is your father and he will watch over you.

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