How to Tell if Someone is Cutting Themselves

Self-inflicted cuts on the arm

Cutting is another term or self-mutilation or self-harm  It often involves razor blades or small knives slicing open the skin.  It’s not to be confused with scarification, where scars are purposefully placed on the body to form a special design.  Cutting is often a sign that someone is suicidal, but not always.  People who cut tend to hide their scars (unlike folks who have sacrification.)

So, how can you tell if someone you love is cutting themselves?  Here are some ways to find out, short of spying on your loved one:

  • If they are wearing long sleeves, baggy sweaters or lots of clothes in hot weather
  • If they suddenly start wearing wristbands all of  the time
  • If they suddenly do not want anyone to see their bare arms or legs when previously they didn’t care about showing off their limbs
  • If you find that they are carrying sharp objects or find sharp objects in their room, purse or workplace
  • If they suddenly stop going to social outings and uncharacteristically want to spend most of their free time alone
  • If they start showing signs of depression

Cutting can become a powerful coping mechanism for the stresses of daily life r dealing with past traumas.  It can be difficult habit to break.  Anyone who cuts needs help — do not ignore it, even if the person clearly states that they are not suicidal.  The person may not be suicidal, but does risk accidentally dying from cutting.

Talk to that person and urge them to get help without being condescending.  Explain that you are worried about internal infections or one day the person may accidentally hit a major artery and bleed to death.  This approach is often better than saying, “Are you NUTS??? No one in their right mind would cut their skin open!”

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4 comments
  1. Emma said:

    Thank you this has helped alot

  2. Anonymous said:

    The other day I was in my brothers room playing on the play station. When turning it off I saw something behind the tv and decided to snoop a bit. Since my brother was away visiting his girlfriend, I knew he wouldn’t just walk in and see me. What I saw behind the tv shocked me. I saw a medical blade laid on the desk behind. why on earth would he have a medical blade ? I exited the room trying to think of a reasonable explanation for it , maybe a project of something . Anyway today I was off school from being ill and went back in . The blade was still there and I noticed it had some black thing on it like dirt so it had obviously being used . Me being familiar to cutting (as I have a few blades and cuts but I’m not that bad) I realised that the black stuff was also on my most recently used blades . I don’t know what to do and I can’t just ask him as he is fragile and well gets angry quickly. I don’t know what to do ! I’m going to take the blade if it is still there tomorrow after school and hide it so he can’t use it and see if another one appears . If it does ill know he cuts because he obviously noticed it went . Wish me luck x what do you think I should do ? X

    • I think you should tell your parents/guardian what’s going on. I’d also get rid of all your cutting paraphernalia and talk to a doctor about your cutting activity. Good luck. Hope this helps.

    • sierra said:

      Its okk I just resontly found out my sister and myy 2 best ffriends were cuttin. If u s’re ur brother having long sleves braclets that he never us to ware them u will know

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