OLATHE, Kan. - A new report finds one in five teenagers ages 14 to 19 have hurt themselves through cutting or self-harming.
Olathe, Kan., teen Ashleigh Branham cut herself 33 times over three years. It started in the 8th grade.
“I saw another girl at school had cuts on her arm. So I asked her what's that and she told me that she was cutting,” Ashleigh said.
So she tried it.
“Eighth grade, ninth grade nothing was very serious nothing left scars. They were almost scratches just kind of experimenting with it,” she explained.
When Ashleigh was physically traumatized in 2009, she became a serious cutter.
“It was the physical act of cutting that made me feel better which sounds very twisted almost. But when you're in that place and things are so rough you resort to any coping mechanism you can,” she said.
Mark Elmore is a licensed professional counselor at Kids TLC in Olathe.
“If you start seeing small scratches that can't be accounted for or that the child is shameful of or is trying to hide, that's a pretty good indication that cutting behavior is a part of how they're dealing with these emotions,” Elmore said.
He said you should ask your child if they're cutting and then tread lightly
“The worst thing that parents can do is come across as angry or hostile or judgmental or trying to shame or guilt the child out of these behaviors," he explained, "because many of the adults don't understand why these kids are cutting. It doesn't seem to make sense.”
Ashleigh got help at Kids TLC. She stopped cutting a year ago and is planning to go to college this fall. She hopes to major in psychology and become a counselor at Kids TLC.
Parents and youth can call 1-800-DON’T-CUT (1-800-3667-287) for help.
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