Self-Harm - Defining the Problem

The point of cutting is ultimately to cover over a much deeper emotional pain.

Self-Harm Defined

Self-harm is a way of coping with overwhelming emotional feelings such as sadness, self-hate, emptiness, or guilt by purposefully inflicting injury on oneself. It is a secretive and incredibly harmful addiction. It can take on many different forms such as cutting or burning of skin. And it is destroying too many lives.

This is why Samantha says she cuts: Every time I cut, everything that I feel is GONE! This fall it will be three years that I have been addicted. And I can't help it. I can't go over two days without it. It is what brings me up so I don't have to feel emotional pain, because I've learned physical pain is nothing compared to emotional.

And Christina said, "I know a girl that started cutting a couple years ago. She was doing it because of some family problems, so I started doing it too, not because of what they said but because it's the only way for me to help myself deal with all of the feelings I hold inside."

For those who struggle with painful, emotional issues, self-injury is a way to release their internal suffering and deal with feelings that are not easy for them to express. It is a way for them to feel in control. Since they can't control their emotional pain, they control their physical pain through cutting, etc. People who self-harm are not trying to kill themselves; they are trying to cope.

Related Posts:
A Door of Hope
Why Do People Self-Harm?
Real Story: Artist Michaela Hatfield
How To Quit Cutting

Listen to what Cassandra had to say when she called into my radio show.

Self-Harm Statistics

  • Each year one in five females and one in seven males engage in self-harm.
  • 90% of people who engage in self-harm begin in their teen or pre-teen years.
  • Nearly 50% of those who engage in self-harm have been sexually abused.

Exact numbers of people who cut are difficult to come by, since most cutters conceal their addiction and injuries. Yet rates of cutting are much higher among younger people, with the average age starting around 12 years old.

Common Forms of Self-Harm

  • Cutting or severely scratching skin
  • Carving words or symbols into skin
  • Burning or scalding skin
  • Biting
  • Sticking objects into your skin
  • Pulling hair out
  • Swallowing poisonous substances or objects

Facts, figures, and definitions are all fine. But if you are a cutter, you know the agony can not be described in numbers or words. You may be cutting and not even know why. And now that you've started, it is hard to stop. Your brain has connected the false sense of relief with cutting, and the addictive cycle begins. You self-harm¦you feel guilty about it¦you don't know how to deal with your guilt¦so you self-harm.

If you are self-harming, I am here to tell you there is hope for you!

With a little help, you CAN stop the addiction and you are not alone.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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7 comments on “Self-Harm - Defining the Problem”

  1. I never done this before but I used to drink to be numb to quite the voices on the inside.. I sober up and deal with social anxiety and depression.. I hate the medicines. And I started cutting not to kill myself but kill what I feel on the inside. Everyday is a stuggle, and I keep myself cut off from the world, so no one can hurt me. I beat up myself for all the abuse and pain I've gone though in my childhood. I've always been an outcast. Nobody understands so it's like a dirty secret I keep to myself.

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