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pleiades's avatar

Why were you a cutter?

Asked by pleiades (6571points) January 16th, 2013

My baby sister is talented and in the 7th grade. She likes drawing and playing assorted instruments. I’m 25 years old, so I was shocked to find out from my 18 year old sister that my baby sister had been cutting her arm. My kid sister said she’s on it and has said that baby sister has stopped, but it troubles me, naturally. Kid sister told me not to mention anything to baby sister and is overall working things out and so far has been good.

Question: What made you start cutting? Did you get over it? How?

Should I get involved? Mother works 2 jobs and I visited her the other day to drop off some lunch and didn’t tell me anything about the cutting. I think my mom was scared that I might take action in a yelling match or something, which I wouldn’t but I would express my disappointment. Her father is a burnout, he’s my moms ex boyfriend who lives in the same apartment as my mother and sister.

Thanks for what you have to offer.

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13 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I would collect your 18-year old sister and talk to your mom immediately. Good intentions and love are wonderful, but adolescent cutting is really serious and requires professional help.

From the New England Journal of Medicine

Self-mutilation, most commonly by cutting or burning, frequently begins in adolescence and may continue for a lifetime if the behavior is left untreated. It can cause permanent scarring, blood loss, infection (including human immunodeficiency virus infection), and even death. It is also psychologically dangerous.

Self-mutilation can be visually shocking—imagine a crosshatching of ugly red gashes on an adolescent’s arms and legs—and eerily silent, a dramatic symbol that takes the place of words. It has the power to move not only psychiatrists and other mental health workers, but also the members of the emergency room staff, who bind and stitch the wounds of “cutters” and assess the likelihood that such persons will commit suicide; plastic surgeons, who are asked to remove the scars but often find their questions unanswered about how the wounds that caused them occurred; and youth workers in all areas—hospitals, schools, and juvenile and residential facilities—who may be struggling with more than one child who cuts, often in recognition of and in competition with each other.”

NostalgicChills's avatar

I think you should sit with her and have a talk. Obviously she has some issues in life and she probably feels that there is no one who would understand. To be honest, middle school was the worst three years of my life, and it can be hard. Just talk to her sincerely, find out what’s going on and be there for her. Hopefully she’ll stop if she just started cutting but if it continues she should get help.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m not a cutter, never have been. Is this more of an issue with one gender than the other?

bookish1's avatar

I’ve done self-harm, just not this type, but I knew a number of people in high school and college who cut. It can be for reasons as varied as wanting attention, wanting to punish oneself, or wanting to numb oneself to emotional pain (that was my reason).

I agree that you should confront this with your mother and other sister as soon as possible. It’s a bad habit that can turn into an addiction, and keeping silent about it won’t help anyone. Good luck.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I was a self harmer. I also have a mental issue and when I was younger dealing with things harming myself stopped my brain and gave me relief.

I don’t harm myself anymore but I am on a really good prescription.

I think you should get involved. Let your mother know. If your sister is cutting herself then the issues she has are deeper than just being a family problem.

That is what I found out about myself.

Your sister most likely will need professional help.

filmfann's avatar

Like @bookish1, I did self harm. I am mostly past that now, just because I know the damage I do. Hopefully she will outgrow it before going too far.

FutureMemory's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe It seems to me that young women are more likely to admit it/share it/take photos of their scars, but I’ve known a fair share of guys that do it too. The first person I ever knew that was a cutter was a guy, in fact.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@FutureMemory That’s interesting. But I guess we’re all stressed out at times. Let’s make an effort to take care of more jellies. We can’t change the world but we can make our corner better.

Judi's avatar

My son said it reminded him he was alive. He quit when he started getting tattoos.
He has had years of counseling. He’s 30 now and has worked at being pretty stable but it is an effort every day and he has to take medication.
Mental health issues are not always the fault of bad parenting or trauma. Sometimes it’s just like diabetes or cancer. Noone chooses these problems. It’s a brain disease that requires treatment like any other illness. It just happens to be a brain disorder.

Strauss's avatar

My youngest (just turned 13 on the 13th) opened up to me about her cutting last summer. We are fortunate as a family in that we have extremely good communication on most matters, and I think (hope) we have a good handle on it.

Incidentally, she did not exhibit this behavior until she was exposed to it by a peer who has some serious family problems.

ragingloli's avatar

here is the account of someone who once was a cutter. He describes in depth why he did it.

Response moderated
JessK's avatar
Many of the submitters explain why they cut.

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