In the media it is sometimes portrayed in such a way that cracks in puberty should not be taken so seriously, as it may be a stage that will pass. Can you really see it that way?
There are temporary developmental disorders that can occur during puberty as well, but it is more likely to be nail biting, twisting, or hair pulling. If you think scratching is helpful, it tends to be permanent. It usually develops between 15 and 24 years (study of the year 2000, today it could be a little younger). It is little known in older women, although this may also be because they have coped with their problems. It could also mean that they may not seek help or have had bad experiences when they were younger.
Basically every crack needs to be taken seriously, there are no studies saying it “grows” and not taking it seriously can lead to aggravation. It is important that those affected are accepted with their problems and also taken seriously!
It seems that more and more girls are hurting themselves. Is it just paying more attention today or is it something of a “trend”?
When we work with rotetraenen.de It started, self-harm was still a huge taboo subject, there were few German sites and hardly anyone talked about it in public. Much has been reported about it now. This may mean that more people dare to admit that they are hurting themselves, but it can also lead to more ‘copycat criminals’, because it is also a group phenomenon, especially in mental hospitals but also among friends (Hartmannbund, 1998). But it should also be considered that someone who “just” imitates it and then notices a supposedly positive effect should be taken seriously. Maybe you saw it as a problem solving strategy with friends, tried it and found that it helps you too for a while and now you can’t find other solutions. In certain scenes in particular, there is an increasing number of self-harm. They used to be punks, goths, satanists, now they are emos, but I don’t think you can talk about a trend just because the public interest has increased.
Do boys cut themselves too? And: why is it more common in girls?
Studies assume a ratio of around 3-5: 1, a 2002 survey showed that around every 10th user of rotetraenen.de is male. However, the number of unreported cases is assumed to be higher. Society has different expectations of boys and girls. While boys may express their aggression and therefore react more aggressively to others, girls should not express their aggression, but rather be calm and adjusted. Girls usually direct their first aggression against the mother and then inward for fear of deprivation of love, then they react with depression or self-harm.
Why can’t you just stop?
Self-harm has different effects for the affected person, as soon as it serves as a means of escape to a calm state, it also develops an addictive character. The person in question has learned what helps and cannot just get rid of this behavior.
How do you get it?
First of all, the person in question must, of course, want to stop and be ready for help. Whether this is necessary for therapy, the help in the forum is sufficient, or someone is simply needed to speak, it should be considered in each individual case. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula here. In the acute case, as in the case of other addictions, it can be helpful to delay self-harm, saying to yourself “I can still injure myself in an hour” over and over again. Of course, the time interval can be selected individually. We have also compiled a list of alternatives on rotetraenen.de. Here users wrote to us and told us what they were doing “instead”.
Why do you really hurt yourself?
Self-injurious behavior, of course, can have a variety of causes. There are often traumatic experiences in childhood, sometimes a “puberty crisis.” Most of the time, self-harm is just a symptom and does not allow you to infer a specific disease or cause. It is often falsely claimed that anyone who cuts himself is on the edge (mental illness, editor’s note) It is or the other way around, each borderliner cuts himself. Of course, this is not the case.
There is no general answer as to whether a person in question suspects or knows the causes. Many certainly know this, but there are also people who don’t know where it comes from, or who think that they have only imitated it, but actually also have deeper problems that make them simply unable to stop again.
Self-harm offers a remedy for internal pressure, has a calming effect, or can also prevent suicide by offering a compromise between the will to survive and destructive impulses. Of course, they can also be a cry for help. So there are a multitude of effects and at least as many reasons. Personally, I think that most of those affected know what the cause is, but this knowledge alone does not always help to cope with the problems.
Can you give any advice on how to deal with it if I realize my best friend is cutting / hurting herself?
When you’re this close to someone, be sure to reach out, express your concern, and offer to talk about it. If possible, do it before self-injury and not while caring for wounds, otherwise self-injury will be overly vigilant. If you can talk to the person in question with mutual consent, you could, for example, set fixed talk times to maintain independence from serious self-harm.
In general, a lot of patience is required. You can only help if the person in question wants it himself and does not help in any way providing ultimatums. This increases the internal pressure of the person in question again and the disappointment is high on both sides if the self-injury does not stop “now”.