I’m 15 and I started cutting in the sixth grade. In the beginning, it was to deal with stress from school and I quickly stopped but started again in the seventh grade and continued through to the ninth grade. My eighth grade year, though, was the worst and I’ve been having trouble with depression since then. During that year, my grandma was rediagnosed with lung cancer and my family was going through very tough times and I didn’t know how to deal with losing a grandparent that I was close to. The depression from it was severely painful and I cut heavily on the wrists because crying constantly made me feel weak. I would think of suicide on a daily basis. In the August before I started my freshman year, my grandmother passed away and I cut frequently and thought about suicide everyday. Though I haven’t cut in 7 months, I still feel empty and think of death as a relief from the same impossible tasks. I feel like I’m trapped in my own home and am easily irritated with my family and friends.
A. It sounds as if you’re dealing with a tremendous amount of pain and suffering. It has to be difficult losing your grandmother. In addition, you have the added stress of dealing with an ongoing depression. At this time, you cut yourself to relieve your pain. You consider suicide a relief. Please recognize you are most likely considering suicide because you do not know how else to manage your emotional pain. If you knew of a better way to manage and cope with stress, you would most likely be doing it.
Many people experience depression. They too feel alone. Depression makes them feel hopeless. It makes them feel as though there is no sense in trying because they can’t improve. “Why not just kill myself? No one would have to worry about me then. I could end my painful suffering. Of course suicide would bring relief.” Individuals with depression often think that way. That is often their narrative. Depression can make it difficult to think clearly and rationally. This is why it is so important that you meet with a mental health professional or at the very least, speak to someone in your family about getting help.
Millions of individuals suffer from depression and they are helped by a combination of individual psychotherapy and sometimes medication. Effective treatments exist. You can learn alternative methods of coping. Cutting yourself is dangerous. It may bring temporary relief but is it is not a helpful coping strategy. When I learn that someone is cutting themselves I recognize that they are deeply suffering. I also recognize they can be helped, but it requires that they seek the appropriate services.
Please consider speaking to your parents about seeing a mental health professional. If you don’t want to speak to your parents then perhaps you can try the school counselor. You don’t have to continually suffer. The next step that you should take after reading this letter is to speak to an adult who can help you access the proper treatment for depression and cutting. Please let me know if you have any followup questions.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Oct 2009
Randle, K. (2009). Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 10, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/10/11/dealing-with-suicidal-thoughts/