“One in every 200 girls between 13 and 19 years old cut themselves regularly,” according to TeenHealth.com. Cutting is a type of self-mutilation by making scratches or cuts on one’s body with a sharp object for the purpose of releasing emotional pain.
Guidance counselor, Mrs. DeBenedetto calls cutting a “coping mechanism for people who are in some form of pain as a result of trauma in their life. They see it more of a release for all of the stress that is going on internally.”
“It’s not really that they want to kill themselves or anything to do with suicide,” agrees BHS nurse Mrs. Davenport. “It’s more about they have this inexplicable pain, and the cutting just helps relieve that pain for them.” This pain may be felt in the form of rage, depression, or emptiness that simply cannot be conveyed to anyone else.
Most commonly people will cut themselves on their arms, legs, or any place that can be easily concealed. Self-mutilation doesn’t end at simply cutting; burning is another method of hurting oneself to release pain.
At Bethel High School, cutting is no more of a problem than it is at other schools in the area, but it is still serious. Mrs. DeBenedetto explains that if it is disclosed to the school that a student my be cutting then “we do something called an at-risk survey done on the student where we have either a school counselor, the school psychologist, the social work or the nurse come in and two people ask questions of the student and determine whether or not we need to take a step further of getting them immediate medical attention or connect them with outside services.”
Self- harm is not the answer to covering up emotional distress; therefore talking to a trusted adult such as a guidance counselor or teacher is an important step in getting the right kind of help.
Mrs. DeBenedetto advises all teachers to send a student they think may be cutting to the guidance counselors but “basically any student at any time can tell any adult in the building.”
“It’s important for the students to know that they can come here and they can go to guidance or a teacher,” says Mrs. Davenport. “And its all very confidential to try to get them the help that they need.”