Clarification and Answering a Question from a Reader

Greetings Faithful Readers and Survivors!

This is an attempt to clarify a post about tips to avoid cutting posted back a while ago in 2009. I’ve decided to include the Reader’s comments and questions below along with my response. Thanks Sylvan for your question!


I have a very close and dear friend that is like family who cuts themselves. I really need help with this. I agree with what you posted but I really can’t agree that I should just leave her alone and not try to stop her from continuing this lifestyle , please help me. how i it you overcame your addiction please tell me I desperately need someone’s help. How is it you overcame this addition?



Thank you for leaving your concerns for your friend and for disagreeing with my advice. It allows me to clarify what I meant. I hope I will be able to be clearer and be able to help you help your friend all at the same time. Let’s keep talking until we get there, okay?

Now, with that said, I’d like say that what I suggested was not to leave the person alone, but to leave their cutting tool alone. I have to reiterate that as a cutter, we are NOT trying to commit suicide. We KNOW how to kill ourselves and cutting absolutely is NOT about suicide. What I warn against is hiding or removing the cutting tool of choice. That forces us to use an instrument we may not be familiar with and we might end up cutting deeper than intended and doing some serious injury. We cut to release tension, to have an internal ‘scream’…to take the edge off – nothing more (at least for me). Some teens, I suspect, cut to get attention and that’s just sad.

As a friend, you can support your friend by making sure she cuts safely in a safe and supportive environment…even if you don’t support her actions, you can still support her, right? I also want you to know you simply cannot ‘love’ her out of this addiction, she needs to understand what she’s trying to get out by cutting. Yes, it feels good, but is she holding back comments or feelings she feels aren’t safe to express? What pain is she burying deeper with each cut she makes? Encourage her to get professional help with the real reason beneath the cutting. She will have to come to terms with whatever that ‘thing’ is or she will continue to cut.

And also let me say I have NOT overcome this addiction. Every time I get overly stressed or am overcome with feelings of helplessness, I battle the Urge to cut. I try to wait for the Urge to pass, I’ll try one of my 10 tips (my favorite is writing on my arm with a red marker), I’ll deep breath, etc. If none of that works, I make sure I cut only until I feel some relief. Sometimes, I can get away with a little, sometimes it is much more. But then I do a ‘reality check’ and ask myself what brought on the Urge and I journal it and address it with my therapist. So, you see – I’m not cured by any means, I’m just learning to deal with it a little better.