Why People Cut Themselves

December 6, 2013 Updated: April 24, 2016

Dear Kathy,

     My college roommate cuts herself when she’s upset. She says that it helps her calm down and it’s no big deal. I’m worried about her, though.  What do you think about cutting? Is it dangerous?


Worried Friend

Dear Friend,

     Cutting is one type of self-harm among many. Other types of self-injury include, but are not limited to: burning, scratching, hitting/banging/choking oneself, banging one’s head, punching hard surfaces, and preventing wounds from healing.

     Many people who hurt themselves on purpose do so as a way to relieve the stress of painful emotions. It is important for people who self-harm, like your friend, to get help to learn to cope with their feelings in a healthier way.

     Her current way of dealing with her painful emotions can lead to suicidal feelings in the future. Go to your college’s counseling center and talk to the director about resources which are available to students coping with stress. Ask for specific information on self-injury.

     Two ways that former cutters deal with painful feelings are to tear up old telephone books and to chew ice. Ask the counseling center staff for suggestions to help your friend. Speak to the resident advisor in your dorm, as well.

     Please write back and let us know how your friend is doing. She is fortunate to have you in her corner!

All my best,


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