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lovemydaughter
lovemydaugh... asks:
Q:

My 13 year old daughter is cutting herself. Please someone, tell me how to talk to her and help her.

I've done some research on this subject already, but am more confused than ever as to how to help my daughter.
She has been cutting herself since 5th grade, but I didn't know about it until just a few months ago. She cut herself, we sought counseling, she wouldn't talk to the outside counselor, but did talk to her school counselor. He "seemed" to have helped her. She was doing better in school, joined the track team and seemed generally "happier" and seemingly on a "positive" trend. Just this morning however, I found out she is doing it again. She say's she does it to ease the pain but absolutely refuses to talk to me about what the pain is. She told me she did it last night after I came in her room and yelled at her to clean her room. She say's it's not me that causes her to cut, but I can't help but wonder what I've done wrong. I know it's not productive to blame myself, so I won't. But, I am at a loss as to how to handle this. I told her we need a game plan because she is obviously "not OK". She said not to say that and she is fine. She also refuses to talk to a counselor again. I took her out for drive tonight hoping to talk to her but it just seemed to backfire and now is not talking at all and in her room under the blankets with the light off. I just feel so helpless and terribly afraid. I'm literally sick to my stomach with fear of her hitting a vein and bleeding to death. Please someone, tell me how to talk to her and help her. Thanks for reading.
In Topics: Cutting
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
May 19, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

I'm so glad you wrote about what your daughter and you are going through.  It's not surprising that you are feeling sick and uneasy about her behavior lately.  It's very scary as a parent to find out your child is harming themself.  You are exactly right that by your daughter using cutting as a coping skill for when things aren't going well, she's telling you that she's not ok.  Typically most teens or kids that cut themselves aren't doing it as a suicide attempt, but only to release or feel pain in a different way than they are currently experiencing it.  They usually don't have the proper coping skills to deal with uncomfortable feelings, so they cut as a way to numb their real feelings.  

For teens, cutting can become a habit and a very dangerous one.  Like you stated, kids usually don't realize that it's very easy for them to cut too deep or too far, and that the wound can easily become infected or need medical attention.  By the time it gets that far, they are usually too embarassed or afraid they will get in trouble to talk to an adult about it.  It's great that you are trying to talk to your daughter about this now to help her from doing any permanent or serious damage to herself in the future.  Find out what she is using to cut herself and make sure that it is not accessible to her.  If she uses razors, lock them in your bathroom and tell her she needs to ask permission to take one in the shower with her when she needs to shave.  That may seem invasive, but her safety needs to come first.

It sounds like your daughter is afraid to speak to an outside counselor about her cutting.  However, because of the dangers of cutting it's important to find someone that she will be able to discuss it with.  If she's comfortable talking to her school counselor, set up an appointment to meet with him again.  If the school counselor suggests that she needs something more intensive, ask him for a referral.  Ask your daughter if she would feel more comfortable working with a younger counselor?  Call a few counseling agencies and explain what you are looking for and ask if they have a counselor that would fit your daughters needs?  

Remember that you can try working with a few different counselors until your daughter finds one that she feels comfortable with.  Allowing her to be in the decision making process will make her more likely to be willing to talk to someone.  

You're doing a great job reaching out for help.  If you want to talk to a crisis counselor more in depth about your situation, please feel free to call us anytime.

Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000

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