Why Do Teens Cut?

18 Jul Why Do Teens Cut?

Your teen seems to constantly have scratches on their arms and legs with unlikely excuses for how they got there. Maybe they also spend a lot of time in isolation and wear clothing that isn’t right for the season to hide their scars. These could all be signs of a type of nonsuicidal self-injury (NNSI), also known as cutting.

Today, studies suggest that nearly 17 percent of adolescents between the ages of 14 and 21 have engaged in self-injury. Why would so many choose to hurt themselves?

Coping Mechanism

On the one hand, cutting can be seen as a symptom of other issues. For example, if a teen is experiencing significant amounts of stress and anxiety in their life, cutting could be a way that they try to deal with these emotions. Put simply, cutting could be used as a coping mechanism, albeit a negative one.

Physical Release


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Along these same lines, teens might cut themselves to physically release pent up negative feelings. In other words, with a lot of inner turmoil taking place, a teen might need a physical action that acts as a symbolic or ritualistic release of all of these emotions that are stored inside. Some teens who are completely overwhelmed feel numb to their emotions and might use cutting as a way to feel something physical instead of just emotionally detached.


A final reason why teens tend to cut themselves is to exercise control over their body and feelings. While cutting causes pain, this is a type of pain that the teen can control and when life is stressful or chaotic, this might be something that a teen yearns for. This factor is particularly true for overachievers and perfectionists who are struggling to cope with feelings of anxiety.

There are many reasons why a teen might cut themselves, but whichever one it is, it’s important to help them seek support and learn positive coping mechanisms for their emotions and stress.

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