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Self Injury and Cutting

Concerned Friend

Self Injury

Self injury is the deliberate injury to oneself through cutting, burning, hair-pulling, head banging, bone-breaking or self poisoning.[1]  

Injuring yourself on purpose by making scratches or cuts on your body with a sharp object enough to break the skin and make it bleed is called cutting.  People may cut themselves on their wrists, arms, legs, or bellies. Some people self-injure by burning their skin with the end of a cigarette or lighted match.

When cuts or burns heal, they often leave scars or marks. People who injure themselves usually hide the cuts and marks and sometimes no one else knows.

The dangers of cutting are obvious, such as the risk of losing too much blood or of getting an infection.  But there are hidden emotional dangers in cutting too.  It can become enough of a habit that some people feel that they are addicted cutting/self injury. [2]

Reasons Why Adolescents May Self-Injure[1]

  • To regain control over their body
  • To escape feelings of tension, anxiety, emptiness or numbness
  • To deal with feelings of self-hatred or guilt
  • To  communicate emotional pain
  • To obtain a feeling of euphoria
  • To find relief from an unpleasant emotional state
  • To help cope with a traumatic event


What Can You Do To Help A Friend Who Self Injures? [1]

  • Let them know their is hope
  • Encourage them to talk about it
  • Listen without shock or judgment
  • Tell an adult who can help and intervene
  • Make an anonymous report to Safe2Tell


What If I Need Help?

Colorado Crisis Services provides mental health, substance use or emotional help for those who are struggling, providing confidential and immediate support, 24/7/365. If you are in crisis or need help dealing with one, call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) to speak to a trained professional. For more information about Colorado Crisis Services, visit their website at


Additional Resources:

Submit a Tip


Make a Report

Anyone showing cutting behavior needs to seek help to find solutions for dealing with their painful issues.  This could be through a school counselor or a professional therapist or a support group.  Whatever the setting, the outcome should be finding healthy outlets for overwhelming negative feelings.  It is difficult to overcome cutting by yourself and you don’t have to do it alone.  If you, or someone you know, is struggling with cutting and you don’t know where to turn for help, you can always start by making a report to Safe2Tell™ Colorado. Call 1-877-542-7233, make a web report using the submit a tip button to the left, or download the Safe2Tell Colorado mobile app on the Apple Store or Google Play.




[1] El Paso County Department of Health and Environment, Safe Teen Self Injury Fact Sheet

[2] The Children’s Hospital website, September 2007