Mental health issues including drug abuse and suicide are known to be long-term consequences of child abuse [1A]. Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI), more commonly known as cutting, is another [1B][4A].
NSSI is defined as the deliberate damaging of the surface of the skin – whether by scratching, cutting, piercing, or burning – but without suicidal intent [1C][2A].
“After I’d seen the blood, it was like a release of anger or some sort of release. I can’t really explain the feeling, but it was just a release.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, this type of self-harm is a maladaptive means of coping with profound emotional pain, anger, or frustration [2B].
Cutting (in whatever form) acts to distract from internal turmoil; restore a sense of control (at least over the body, if not the underlying situation); inflict punishment; and communicate distress to the world [2C].
Though cutting may bring temporary relief, calm is generally followed by guilt and shame [2D][7A]. Soon enough, the troubling emotions return. More-serious (even fatal) harm can follow.
Studies have shown cutting to be extremely common among adolescents. Over 20% of adolescents are now thought to self-harm at some point [7B]. Approximately 18% continue into adulthood [1D]. This does not make the practice benign. Continue reading