If you’re in Middle School, you’ve probably seen scars. You’ve walked past a kid with some little lines on their arms, and probably didn’t notice. But these cuts are so much more than a plea for attention, or a thing to be ignored.
Self-Harm is an epidemic. It’s estimated that about one percent of America’s Population (about one million people) self harm on a regular basis, and the number is increasing. Some attribute cutting to a need for attention, others claim that the behaviour is repulsive, or taboo. But a child who is desperate enough for relief to drag a razor across their flesh is so much more than attention seeking.
Most cutters use their blade to deal with emotions too big for them to deal with in any other manner. Stress, loneliness, anger, depression and disconnection can all lead to self-harm. Some find the behaviour to be a release of anguish, while others find it reassuring to have a physical manifestation of pain. Some mar their skin to escape from numbness and lack of feeling. Whatever the motivation or effect, self-harm is a problem that needs to be stopped.
Why are we letting our children give themselves these wounds? Why are we allowing our posterity to experience an agony so intense at such a young age? Where is family and love when the cutters need it? We abandon our children, passing their actions off as teenage frustration and rebellion, at the time when they need our help at all. We look the other way when we see scars, don’t question long sleeves or bandages, don’t look deeper than we have to. We blind ourselves to the sea of anguish experienced by our dearest friends every day, and we turn them away at the door when they ask for help.
Sometimes the happiest people are suffering most of all. Most cutters hide their behaviour with smiles, put up false fronts. Online, when you see quotes about self-harm, you often find the quote “I’m fine.” Although the words have been romanticized by artists and poets, those words perfectly embody the motto of a cutter—to continue on, refusing to accept help or find solace.
There’s so much fear in a cutter’s heart—fear of humiliation, fear of opinions and criticism. Fear of being the freak, of being known as the kid with the “little problem.” These fears won’t go away without support. Love and compassion will wash them away, along with the grief that goes with them.
I don’t want to preach to you. You’ve all heard messages about “loving thy neighbor,” and I’ll not repeat them more than I have to. But the anguish of the cutter is very real, and very deadly. These children don’t seek attention as much as they seek solace.
See, and forgive.