It’s something any parent would be alarmed to find among their child’s things.
A poem, copied from the Internet, titled “Cutters Lullabye” which refers to cutting – a form of self-injury seen among troubled teenagers and pre-teens.
The mother of a Decatur sixth grader believes parents need to be aware that some young people in this community may be, if not actually cutting themselves, at least thinking about it.
Cutting involves making cuts or severe scratches on the body with a sharp object. The arms, legs and front of the torso are usually the targets, since these areas can be easily reached and hidden under clothing.
The Mayo Clinic’s web site says cutting is typically not a suicide attempt, but “an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration.”
“While self-injury may bring a momentary sense of calm and a release of tension, it’s usually followed by guilt and shame and the return of painful emotions,” the site says. “And with self-injury comes the possibility of more serious and even fatal self-aggressive actions.”
McCarroll Middle School principal Dewayne Tamplen said when the school became aware of the problem, they dealt with it by referring the young lady to a counselor and notifying her parents. They did not send out any kind of notification to all parents.
“We haven’t perceived it as a huge problem,” he said. “It’s a few kiddos here and there, and we address that individually with the parent.”
Cutting is one of the issues touched on by speaker Jeffrey Dean, a nationally-known author, minister and counselor who has spoken here and at other Wise County schools.
If parents suspect their child might be cutting themselves, there are signs to look for:
- Scars, such as from burns or cuts
- Fresh cuts, scratches, bruises or other wounds
- Broken bones
- Keeping sharp objects on hand
- Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather
- Claiming to have frequent accidents or mishaps
- Spending a great deal of time alone
- Pervasive difficulties in interpersonal relationships
- Persistent questions about personal identity, such as “Who am I?” “What am I doing here?”
- Behavioral and emotional instability, impulsivity and unpredictability
- Statements of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness
“Because self-injury is often an impulsive act, becoming upset can trigger an urge to self-injure,” the Mayo Clinic site says. “Many people self-injure only a few times and then stop. However, for others, self-injury can become a long-term, repetitive behavior.”
The site encourages both young teenagers and their parents to reach out for help.
“Any form of self-injury is a sign of bigger issues that need to be addressed,” it says. “Talk to someone you trust – such as a friend, loved one, health care provider, religious leader or a school official – who can help you take the first steps to successful treatment. While you may feel ashamed and embarrassed about your behavior, you can find supportive, caring and nonjudgmental help.”