Why Do People Cut Themselves?


11 Answers

Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Sorry it's an old question but I don't entirely agree with what this person above has answered.
Some people do it for attention sure...and yes people are depressed. However, I do not feel these are the only two reasons. I actually do myself, and I enjoy it.... It's a relief, and it helps me cope. I am not depressed I just have bad moments as any person does. So there are people who like it, there are people who want attention, there are people who are depressed, and also there are a lot of people who are stressed out and it gives them control. Cutting yourself gives you a control tht no one else can take from you. It's one of the few things you have absolute control over no matter what, and some people like having that feeling.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
On a scientific note, endorphins are released when u cut, which elates you, somewhat like a drug high. I cut as well, but do not wish to see others cutting, as i do not approve. I dont cut for some fashion trend, i just use it as a distraction for my inner demons.
Ps:dont cut 4 fashion, it pisses me off.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I really think that there is no point of cutting yourself, if you really feel the need to cut, you should see a shrink. People who cut themselves, want to die, or they eaither want attention. Somebody who just posts stupid little comments on the internet saying "I HATE MY LIFE" or "I JUST WANT TO DIE" usually just want attention, or someone to feel sorry for them. But the other people, who actually try to die, or want to, should get help, Im not trying to hate or nothing, but they probably have issuse and they should talk to somebody about.
Person McPersonson Profile

The common answer people give here — that it's either for depression or attention — is half true and half not.

Yes, self-harm is often a coping mechanism for emotional distress. Yes, it is often very visible. Yes, there are individuals who use that visibility to seek attention. However, what is misleading about this wording is that it implies it's one or the other, never both, when in reality, most people driven to seek attention in this manner do so because they are being ignored by family, authority figures, and/or friends, and it is having a strong negative impact on their well-being.

Now, note that I said most and not all. In fact, there are cases where self-harm for attention's sake can be a tactic of abuse and manipulation. I'll discuss those later, however, as they are the exception and not the rule. For now, let's look at the reasons why it might make an effective coping mechanism in the short term:

  1. Natural antidepressants: When a person is wounded, it prompts an endorphin release in the brain. This eases emotional pain without the need for drugs.
  2. Distraction: The sensation of physical pain is often preferable to the emotional distress a person is experiencing. Thus, it serves as something of an alternative.
  3. Release of aggression: If one is being hurt by others, they may feel the need to hurt someone, but know they are unable to hurt their aggressors, especially if the slights against them are unintentional — so they turn it on themselves.
  4. Validation: We live in a society that tells us that emotions aren't real. Often, when we're being hurt by others, we'll be told that we need to toughen up, and whatever they do isn't that bad until they actually attempt to kill us. When a person is wounded invisibly, it's easy to find oneself in a state of conflict, between the fact that we KNOW that what is happening is painful and the messages we are consistently being bombarded with about how emotional pain is a weakness, or worse, entirely fake. Having a visible, physical wound for it can make a person feel validated. It can be considered proof that their distress is real.
  5. Control: Many situations are distressing because the person involved feels as if they have no control over their own life anymore. Self-inflicted injuries, however, are a kind of pain that one can feel thoroughly in control of. That feeling of a return to control is often a great relief.

This is by no means a complete list, either. As you can see, there are many reasons it makes an effective coping mechanism in the short term. However, this doesn't make it a good idea, for many reasons. Just to name the two major ones:

  1. Scars: Obviously one does not want to have a constant reminder of the worst time of their life permanently etched into their skin. (For those of us who already do have this problem and regret it: I can recommend either silicone anti-scar treatment, or perhaps tattooing over them with a symbol of moving forward, if you're a fan of tattoos.)
  2. Addiction: Remember point 1 under why it works? Well, just because there are no drugs involved doesn't mean that it is not addictive. What's more, one can build a tolerance to endorphin release from injury just as they can from many drugs, thus requiring them to hurt themselves worse and worse to achieve the same effect as time goes on. It can be extremely dangerous.
But then, there is one other reason a person might do it, as I said before. Something much more insidious — occasionally, people will threaten or inflict harm on themselves in order to hurt others. This is important to know, because being able to tell the difference is critical to getting everyone involved into a safe position. There is a lot of overlap between these individuals and those who do it because they are genuinely hurt — the difference is, in those cases, they see normal behavior as an attack on them.

So, how can you tell if someone is using self-harm as a manipulative tactic?

  • Do they explicitly and maliciously blame it on you? For example, do they ever say anything resembling "Now look what you made me do!" upon showing you their injuries?
  • Do they threaten self-harm or even suicide if you break off your relationship, forget an important date (e.g., anniversaries), or don't give them gifts?
  • Do they EVER use the threat of self-harm or even suicide as a bargaining chip in any sort of negotiation?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it is almost absolutely certain that the person you are answering these questions for is using self-harm as an abuse tactic, and if finding help for them does not work and quickly, you should distance yourself from them as quickly as possible. If they do continue to threaten suicide if you do so, call the police. It is not your responsibility to watch them at the expense of your well-being.

christina barnhart Profile
There are truly only to reasons for that one is they want attention or two they are depressed and they need help because it will lead to something more serious like death
Lucy Robins Profile
Lucy Robins answered
It is a form of mental illness. People who cut themselves say it helps to ease their pain associated with depression. If you know someone who does this you really get them some help. It will get worse without treatment and is VERY dangerous. Good luck.
James Franklin Profile
James Franklin answered
When i cut it was because i was depressed and i felt like i was unwanted but i stoped after 3 years of it and i started writing it  help me sometimes. But somrtimes i get the erage to do it again when i start to cry
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I also cut myself, not for attention I was morr ified when one of my friends and my fail found out I was cutting it was a nightmare, I am depressed, It does give relief XD
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
People cut themselves because they are stupid and want attention. They say its a relief when you cut yourself but why hurt yourself. If they are so depressed then why make it worse?

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