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Teen Cutting & Self-Mutilation Shockingly Prevalent: What Parents Need to Know and Do

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  • Teen Cutting & Self-Mutilation Shockingly Prevalent: What Parents Need to Know and Do

    Teens who engage in self-mutilating behavior, the intentional hurting of oneself without the intent of suicide, have become increasingly common. In fact, according to a survey of 633 adolescents conducted by Brown University, over 46 percent of them had engaged in some form of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in the past year. Further:
    • 28 percent engaged in moderate/severe forms of NSSI
    • Adolescents reported an average of 12 incidents in the past year involving an average of two different types of NSSI
    • The most frequently cited forms of self-mutilation were biting self, cutting/carving skin, hitting self on purpose and burning skin
    • Self-injurers who engaged in moderate/severe NSSI were more likely than minor self-injurers (who were more likely than non-injurers) to have had psychiatric treatment, hospitalization and suicide attempt in the past, along with current suicide ideation

    Why do Teens Self-Mutilate?

    Although teen cutting is one well-known type of self-mutilation among teens, there are many others. Along with those mentioned above, self-mutilation can also, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, take the form of:
    • Scratching
    • Branding
    • Marking
    • Picking, and pulling skin and hair
    • Abrasions
    • Head banging
    • Bruising
    • Tattooing
    • Excessive body piercing

    What is causing teens to want to harm themselves?

    The Brown University survey found the most common reasons cited for NSSI were:
    • To try to get a reaction from someone
    • To get control of a situation
    • To stop bad feelings

    In short, many of the teens were doing it "to influence behaviors of others and to manage [their own] internal emotions."

    Further, according to Hale Dwoskin, CEO and director of training of Sedona Training Associates, "the first item among the host of potential motivators for self-mutilation is guilt often over things that are quite natural like budding sexuality. Then there is the self-loathing that many teenagers go through as they work to formulate a persona that works in the world, while often having many awkward missteps."

    Beyond that, Dwoskin points out, "is wanting to be like other teenagers they think are cool or wanting to fit in with other self-mutilators. Plus, there is the excitement of rebellion and getting back at their parents for real or imagined transgressions."

    Some teens say that cutting or other self-harm practices releases stress, emotional pain, and low self-esteem. Others feel further hurt, afraid, or hateful after doing so.

    While some of the adolescents who engage in self-mutilating behavior may suffer from serious psychiatric problems including depression, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, others may struggle with low self-esteem, fitting in, loneliness, difficulty expressing themselves and other emotional problems.

    Aside from the obvious physical danger in self-mutilation, teens who self-mutilate are also more likely to commit suicide. The practice can also worsen problems of depression because the teen may feel shameful or embarrassed about the scars leftover, and avoid making much-needed social connections.

    How to Stop Teen Cutting

    If your child is engaging in cutting or another NSSI, it's time for an intervention.

    "Intervention efforts should be tailored to reducing individual issues that contribute to NSSI and building alternative skills for positive coping, communication, stress management, and strong social support," according to the Brown University study.

    Other important factors, according to Psychiatric Times, include esteem building and increasing healthy decision-making.

    There is a tool, called The Sedona Method, that your teen can use to address all of these important factors, including building self-esteem, learning how to cope, relieving stress and more. It works by tapping into your child's inner ability to release so they are able to relieve tough emotions and stress just by letting go. This way, the tension and bad feelings are gone, and there's no need for cutting or other self-mutilation.

    "Any of the self-mutilation motivators can easily be released in a teenager who is interested in, and open to, letting go," Dwoskin says.

    If you have a child who has recently entered junior high, high school, or college, The Sedona Method is an indispensable tool that they can do anytime, even at school, they feel their emotions are getting the better of them.

    Please, if you notice any signs that your teen is cutting, speak to them about it immediately, and sit down and work through The Sedona Method together.

    Meanwhile, encourage your child to release with The Sedona Method anytime they feel like hurting themselves. The more your child lets go, the faster the desire to self-mutilate will become a thing of the past.
    Purchase Letting Go Movie on DVD
    Purchase Beyond Letting Go
    Purchase The Sedona Method Course
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