Cutting doesn't having the same meaning it did several decades ago. If you are the parent of a teenager, when you were younger and you heard that someone was cutting it typically meant that they were cutting school. But things are much different now. Today, when you hear that someone is cutting, it means they are inflicting injuries to themselves. In fact, one in 12 teens intentionally harms themselves by doing things like cutting. Here's what every parent of teenagers needs to know. 

Understanding Why 

It can be difficult to understand why someone cuts or self-harms in another way. It's a way that some people find works to help them cope with strong and painful emotions, as a way of releasing the pain they feel emotionally. Typically, when someone cuts or intentionally hurts themselves in some way, it's a sign that they overwhelmed mentally and unable to cope, which could possibly be due to a mental illness such as major depressive disorder.

And self-harm is addictive, especially when any underlying issues, such as mental illnesses and/or personality disorders are not dealt with appropriately. When someone is addicted to something, they will find a way to fulfill their addiction. The key to helping someone stop harming themselves is to get down to the root cause of it with treatment. 

Crisis Intervention 

There are several ways to get someone help when they self-harm. If you find that your teen or child has been injuring themselves, the first thing to do is to determine immediately if the injuries were suicidal or non-suicidal in nature. Quite honestly, the best way to do this is to have your teen evaluated by your county's crisis intervention agency. You can call them for a prompt in-home visit or take your teen to the nearest ER and they will call crisis intervention for you. If the self-inflicted injuries are fresh, crisis intervention will likely ask you to take your teen to the ER so a medical doctor can evaluate the injuries. 

Treatment Options 

Crisis intervention staff members are trained to recognize and assess the severity of mental health illnesses, suicidal ideation, and self-harm behaviors. They can also make recommendations for treatment, which includes making arrangements for your teen to be placed in an inpatient mental health facility, if necessary. Other treatment options include outpatient counseling and psychiatrist appointments or a prolonged stay in a residential treatment facility, which is for teens who need intensive counseling and constant monitoring. 

Regardless of where your teen gets help, a psychiatrist will evaluate your teen to determine if there are any underlying mental illnesses that could be causing the self-harming behavior, and treat any illnesses with medication therapy. Your teen will also need a psychologist for ongoing counseling therapy. Also, it's extremely crucial for the entire immediate family to receive counseling to learn how to cope with their own feelings and learn how to handle various situations as a family unit. For more information about counseling, contact a company like Comprehensive Behavioral Health Associates Inc.

Changes In the Home 

In addition to learning how to cope with your teen, you'll need to make other changes in your home in order to keep your teen safe from harming themselves. The most important thing to do, of course, is to lock up all razors, scissors, knives, nail clippers, tweezers, and medication. Everything that can be used to inflict self-injuries must go into a lockable box.

When your teen needs to shave, either watch them shave or purchase an electric razor for them. Waxing is another option for hair removal. However, since waxing is painful, it should be avoided until your teen has learned other coping skills through their ongoing counseling sessions to deal with their emotions and/or mental health issues.