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Self-harm and Cutting

After providing an in service to the Seymour High School Staff last year and while looking through the surveys and ideas on what other avenues of mental illness could be addressed, I guess I was surprised that several of the staff members had questions on what they could do for cutting. Cutting? I guess I never thought it was a problem in Seymour. Here's some information on cutting and what you need to know.

What is self-harm? Self-harm is when people hurt their bodies on purpose as a way of dealing with painful feelings and emotions. It is also called self-injury.

Why do people hurt themselves? There are many reasons. Some people hurt themselves to relieve emotional pain or stress. Emotional pain can be caused by fights with parents or friends, physical or sexual abuse, eating disorders, work or school problems, and loneliness.

Are people who self-harm trying to kill themselves? No, people who self-harm are trying to relieve emotional pain, not kill themselves. It is very important for people who self-harm to get help. The same feelings that lead to self-harm can cause people to become suicidal in the future.

What are the risks of self-harm? Self-harm may lead to infections or permanent scars. In some cases, people may accidentally kill themselves. Some people also become dependent on self-harm. They cannot stop even when they really want to stop.

Why do people keep self-harm a secret? A person may hide self-harm for many reasons. Some people feel guilty and ashamed about what they have done to their bodies. Others fear they will be labeled "crazy" or sent away for treatment. Most people who hurt themselves are just struggling with tough feelings and situations. Some people are also dealing with depression or anxiety.
How does someone stop hurting him or herself? The best way to stop is to tell someone and ask for help. You can get help from a professional such as a therapist. If you do not have a therapist, ask a parent, teacher, coach , counselor, doctor or nurse to help you find one. Talk to others when you are in pain. No one can handle all of life's problems on his own or her own. Find other ways to deal with pain besides hurting yourself. Here are some examples of things to do instead: Call a friend and talk about your feelings. Distract yourself by going for a walk. Exercise to relieve stress. Draw or write in a journal to express your strong emotions. Listen to or play music that makes you happy. This can change your mood. If you or someone you know is doing self-injury, it is important to get help. Talk with a counselor, therapist or other health care provider. You can also get more information by visiting on the internet. Be sure and check out for information on all forms of mental illness.

For more information you may contact the National Mental Health America Office at 1-800-969-6642 or log onto

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Laura Stahl
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Seymour, IN 47274
Phone: (812) 522-3480
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