Self-cutting is a form of self-injury, often practiced by teenagers, but not unknown in adults. Rather than being a suicide attempt, self-cutting is an unhealthy means of dealing with emotional pain or frustration. Some medical professionals believe that self-cutting and other forms of self-injury are a form of impulse control behavior problems, as the cutting tends to occur on an impulse. Further, self-cutting is often followed by the quick return of those emotions that led to the cutting, along with a sense of shame or guilt.
Generally, self-cutting begins around the age of 14, but in recent years younger children, around 11 or 12, are beginning the practice. More girls than boys practice self-cutting, a practice made worse by the ease of concealment of the injuries. There is no one single cause which leads a person towards self-cutting, but often results from an inability to cope with some psychological pain.
Risk factors for self-cutting include being a teenaged female, having friends who engage in self-cutting behaviors, and major life issues that are not otherwise being addressed. Some teens even attempt self-cutting not out of psychological need, but as a form of experimentation. Many who engage in the practice do so only a few times and stop, while others continue to engage in self-cutting long term. The first step in treatment is recognizing the problem and seeking out some form of psychotherapy.